NBC's 'Whitney' Counsels Talk As 'Punishment'

TV Networks are loathe to talk up one new show over another. But TV marketers do need to focus on particular concerns to shore up problem areas. Through an informal, very nonscientific survey, I'm guessing NBC is working pretty hard to let people know about "Whitney," the half-hour comedy from comedian Whitney Cummings.

Evidence here comes from plenty of outdoor advertising -- always a costly media effort. If that isn't enough, consider NBC is offering the first episode of "Whitney" via video-on-demand, a week before it debuts on NBC on Sept. 22.

The marketing push comes from a central theme: That couples living together, with no intention of getting married, can be a good thing. One theme pushed by NBC says: "Happily Unmarried." And then there is all the ordinary relationship stuff to consider.

Bus shelter advertising includes simple white background with Cummings in the foreground and her on-air boyfriend in the background. All slugged with specific relationship thoughts and theories, such as:

"Half of all marriages end... in sweatpants." Another display ad says: "Always a Trophy. Never a Wife." Still another reads: "Women are emotional ninjas. 'I'm fine' means I'm going to stab you in the neck."

Then there's the TV promo: "I don't understand women who used the silent treatment," says Cummings, in a specially produced TV spot. "You want to make him miserable. Keep talking. Talk about your emotions. Tell him you think you look fat. [Talk about] your period."

It ends with this message: "Punishment delivered."  My response is:  Ah, now that'll grab the men!

And to make matters worse: This promo ran during a very male-target sporting event: The USA Cycling Challenge on Versus. My wife says this is perfect media placement: "It makes sense to me. Cyclists are use to punishing themselves!"

No doubt the ad is also running on a number of other NBC Universal networks: Female-heavy USA Network original dramas, as well as women-targeted networks Bravo and Oxygen. Women viewers hearing messages about punishing men? Perfect.

Then again, all this reverse psychology might work. Using the attractive and funny Cummings could be setting smart traps set for men. They might think:  "Poor schlub. He looks miserable. Maybe my life isn't that bad!"

It's set up for a few good laughs. But maybe not as much yucks as with mixed martial arts fighting or Nascar crashes



1 comment about "NBC's 'Whitney' Counsels Talk As 'Punishment' ".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, August 30, 2011 at 11:50 a.m.

    Some of us men actually WANT to learn how many women think, to help us know what to say and when (or not at all). If a sitcom can teach me about relationships, even a little, I'm all ears. MMA fighting? Pretty tedious fare. Count me out.

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