CW Relies On Sex Text To Sell 'Gossip Girl'
Using a rough-looking action shot--somewhat out of focus--of two key characters having sex, CW's copy blares the letters "OMG" in its print ads and "OMFG" for its TV promo commercials. New episodes of "Gossip Girl" start up Monday, April 21 at 8 p.m.
The controversy exists because OMFG is a prevalent teen text message that is shorthand for "Oh My Fucking God." As a result, some media rejected it.
"We wanted to be somewhat provocative," says Rick Haskins, executive vice president of marketing and brand strategy for The CW. "It really speaks to the audience of the show. We didn't want posed photography. We wanted them in the moment. That's how people are seeing things in the YouTube generation."
The print campaign ran in Entertainment Weekly, In Touch, Soap Opera Digest, TV Guide, and People. All five publications turned down CW's initial "OMFG" print campaign.
"I was surprised to see that," says Haskins, who notes that while these publications did not take the intended OMFG campaign, all the publications wrote about CW's controversial advertising.
CW also ran the campaign on cable networks that skew to CW's 18-34 audience, including Bravo, VH1, MTV, E!, Style, and Oxygen. But as opposed to the magazines, virtually all cable networks took the original OMFG campaign. Haskins said one cable network--which he would not reveal--declined.
CW went outside the network for both print and TV creative, which was produced by West Coast ad agency 72andSunny USA. "I wanted to create a complete campaign with a big concept," he said. "Traditionally, you go to one place to get your print, another for your TV."
Haskins doesn't have any firm research in regard to the campaign's performance. He notes that Nielsen typically doesn't offer key "intent to view" research data after the start of the fall season. Still, he notes, all the major Internet sites are talking about it--including AOL, Perez Hilton, Gawker, and TVWithout Pity.
"The whole conceit is that we wanted to capture these OMG moments for people, such as soap-opera fans, who haven't found the show yet," he says. "You don't necessarily know the people drawn to the situation."