For two-hour periods in the afternoon, drivers in Chicago, Philadelphia, and Atlanta--all top-10 DMAs--and Orlando will be able to go through without having to forage for cash. The promotion runs today in Atlanta and on Monday in the other markets in advance of that night's 10 p.m. Labor Day show debut.
The booths across the toll plazas will be covered in signage. In Atlanta, drivers will sail right through. In the three other markets, they will stop and be handed a card reading, "Your free toll was courtesy of TNT and 'Raising the Bar.' 'Raising the Bar' premieres tonight on TNT."
TNT says 4,000 cars are expected in each market, saving Atlanta drivers 50 cents each and those in the others between $1 and $1.50. Under just that metric, the promotion would cost TNT no more than $20,000, although other costs are surely involved, given the signage and other aspects.
Each fall, networks use just about any real estate in an attempt to persuade people to give a new show a shot: pizza boxes, dry cleaning bags, coffee cup--not to mention out-of-home signage on legal and sometimes illegal spots. But this appears to be the first time a toll booth has been colonized, so to speak.
While TNT may be a trailblazer in the TV arena, it is not the first marketer to use a toll plaza. In an example of a placement with a natural link, insurer Geico has placed its logo on booths, front-and-center before drivers waiting to fork over payment.
The TNT drama about young lawyers does not appear to have much of a connection to the setting, although it is timely. Head of marketing Tricia Melton said it is "literally" raising the bar (as in the toll blocker). "With so many people on the roads Labor Day weekend, it's a perfect time to get our message out about the premiere."
The promotion is also sure to generate significant media coverage. The series' executive producer is Steven Bochco of "NYPD Blue" fame.