New Way To Market TV Program: It's Like This Other Show

A promo for USA Network's "Psych"'s upcoming new episodes that will start in August takes a new tack: It touts a similar show, CBS' "The Mentalist."

Both shows have freelancers helping police solve crimes using their keen observational and deduction skills.

The lesser-known and more comedy-infused crime drama, "Psych" is entering its third season, having debuted  in July 2006. CBS' "The Mentalist" started up in September 2008. While the former is a steady, but not high-rated performer for USA, the latter became one of those rare broadcast network hits.

This isn't the first time "Psych" has mentioned the CBS show. One character asked James Roday's Shawn Spencer, the faux-psychic lead in the show, last season what he did for the weekend. He replied he was watching a "Mentalist" marathon.

Then there is the current promo. Spencer and his partner, Burton "Gus" Guster, play by Dule Hill, are trying to explain to a Royal Canadian Mounted Policeman who they are -- that they have solved crimes, that Spencer is a true psychic.

Spencer says: "You've seen 'The Mentalist' right?"
"Yes," says the police officer.
"It's like that," says Spencer.
"Except that guy's a fake," says Gus.
"Right. If I was a fake psychic, it would be eerily similar," says Spencer.
"Exactly the same," says Gus.
"A virtual carbon copy," says Spencer.

The spots are fun -- especially if you are fans of both shows. Credit USA Network with offering up an easy, obvious association. Instead of explaining to new viewers what the show is, USA takes a shortcut: "It is like this other, more popular show."

If you only know "The Mentalist,"  the promo might push you to try "Psych" out. (Then again, if you are a fan of neither, you might go to CBS, which would be a mistake for USA.)

During the writers' strike of a year ago, NBC Universal did bring "Psych" up to the big leagues, putting it on the NBC network for a period. But it didn't make a big splash.

One thing for sure:  If "Psych" makes another network run, NBC's marketing chiefs won't air the current promo, which givies CBS a bit of free marketing spin.

No matter. I'm thinking crossover episode arc.



3 comments about "New Way To Market TV Program: It's Like This Other Show ".
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  1. Michael Kaplan from Blue Sky Creative, July 28, 2009 at 11:31 a.m.

    I think you're missing the point of the spots. I don't think they're comparing Psych to The Mentalist so much as making fun of The Mentalist for being something of a copy of Psych's basic premise. The shows aren't really all that similar when you watch them, but I'm sure it irks Psych's creators that their fake psychic is a niche hit and The Mentalist is a big network hit.

    It's like the great old Fred Allen line: "Imitation is the sincerest form of television."

  2. Julie Wells from FFC, July 28, 2009 at 12:15 p.m.

    The Mentalist has one thing Psych is without; Simon Baker...easy on the eyes.

  3. Seth P from DELINQ ENT., July 28, 2009 at 1:25 p.m.

    Agreed, Michael.

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