Commentary

Launching A TV Show? Consider Giving Potential Viewers The Finger

When in doubt, just give them the finger.

No, not that finger. In Bravo’s case, ads for a new show have created some controversy.

Bravo’s outdoor ad for “Girlfriends’ Guide To Divorce” features actor Lisa Edelstein smiling while holding up just her ring finger.  No ring to see now, just a whitish residual mark. Already certain municipal outdoor platforms in New York and Los Angeles have banned the print advertising, deemed “inappropriate.”

Of course, the print ad is intended to make people do a double-take. The real offensive finger -- traditionally used as an insult-- doesn’t make an appearance. 

The tagline for the show appears in the ad: "Go Find Yourself." The network’s first-ever scripted series, "Divorce" premieres Dec. 2.

There's usually a number of people who complain about a TV show: its racy content; its themes about religion, class, ethnicity, or social position.  Controversy about its marketing is less frequent.

A few years ago, though, CW’s “Gossip Girl” created a similar controversy, with its print ads featuring young woman portrayed in a near-ecstatic state -- complete with messages such as "OMFG" and "Every Parent's Nightmare."

Increasingly, social media digs the quick, quirky, and of course, edgy. Like it or not, that spin is also necessary to get viewers to sample a new show.

Trouble is, when all kind of people, including children can see an ad in public spaces, a bus or subway stop, you need clarification. And then people need to do some explaining -- adult explaining. 

Face it. Freedom for ads yields spillage. Can viewers, casual observers and shrug-of-the-shoulders adults handle that?

Sometimes no effort is required: Mull over a savvy marketing tool for hard times -- without really lifting a finger.

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