NBC's launch marketing of its rookie hit "Heroes" worked this careful aim--with on-air messages about a show featuring "regular human beings with extraordinary abilities." NBC's marketing executives were careful never to say extraordinary "powers."
Why? Talking about people with extraordinary powers puts the show in comic-book land. And that might restrict the audience to some acne-infested teens who, unfortunately, don't make up a large enough quantity of audience--not enough for advertisers to spend $300,000 for a thirty-second spot.
This is much the same way television marketing executives usually lay down a game plan for a new show--or even new networks. For instance, former marketing chiefs at WB, Bob Bibb and Lew Goldstein, never billed the network "The WB: TV for Young Women." That would have been too restricting.
NBC's "Heroes" are all about comic-book-like characters--so much so the young Japanese man, played by Masi Oka, carries around a comic book which seemingly has stories in it about events that just happened to him.
Theatrical movies of this type work much the way: There's a cool young horror-fantasy-type movie that produces want to make. They hope it's interesting enough to draw in older viewers. WB's "Buffy" and "Angel," TV shows that Bibb and Goldstein marketed, were cool enough for the young crowd, but interesting enough for older audience to latch onto.
Successful TV show--like successful theatrical movies--need many diverse viewer groups to work. But their success always starts with the "core" viewers.
Apart from "Heroes," two other rookie shows--ABC's "Ugly Betty" and CBS' "Jericho"--also have their individual core viewers and separate marketing paths to broaden their respective appeal after their promising openings.
Overall, viewers for all three new rookie shows are seeking the same objective.
Surely, viewers are looking for some heroes in "Heroes." Some would say the lead character played by America Ferrara in "Ugly Betty" is a hero. Finally, the small Kansas town of "Jericho" is always seeking heroes to help save the town from the ravages of nuclear destruction.
All shows might not have super-powers. But they all have good abilities to draw a TV crowd.