How does a broadcast network promote a show with a word in its title that the Federal Communications Commission forbids it to use? This is the marketing question CBS hasn't answered as yet with one new show, titled "$#*! My Dad Says."
"We are talking about that now," says George Schweitzer, president for CBS Marketing Group.
The show, based on the Twitter sensation "Shit My Dad Says," raises an unusual issue. Even in the presentation of CBS's new schedule to advertisers, executives were mum. "We never really said the name of the show," says Schweitzer. FCC rules forbids the use of the "s" -word for broadcasters, which would give problems for the copy of an on-air announcer. Some TV executives wondered whether CBS might use the word "bleep" in connection with the show.
Earlier in the day, in a press conference, Nina Tassler, president of CBS Entertainment, also didn't say the name of the show. Still, Tassler said there were certain promo hurdles in touting the series. There were also obvious marketing possibilities, such as having the popular nerdy characters in CBS' big hit "The Big Bang Theory" tout William Shatner, who will star in "$#*! My Father Says."
The Shatner-show follows "Bang" on Thursday night at 8:30 p.m. Shatner has been identified with his longtime on-air persona, Captain James T. Kirk in "Star Trek," something of a key cultural symbol among certain young-adult techies.
Good news for CBS -- time is on their side. Networks immediately kick-start marketing efforts for new fall dramas and reality shows or new summer programming fare right after the program presentations in mid-May. Comedies are saved for on-air promotion nearer to their debuts.
"You don't want to wear out the jokes," says Schweitzer. "They are run closer to air."
This year, NBC and ABC has a variety of new shows to promote -- CBS less so. But CBS does have a number of big hits changing time periods, such as changes to "Survivor" and "Big Bang Theory." Still, Schweitzer believes its marketing efforts won't need to shift into higher dollar levels.
Starting new shows is "the costly stuff," says Schweitzer. "Moving [and promoting] 'Big Bang Theory' is less costly."
In reaction to "$#*! My Father Says," the Parents Television Council said it would "wage an unrelenting campaign" against every advertiser on the show, saying that the network "intentionally chose to insert an expletive into the actual name of a show."