Marketing New TV Shows With Older Ones In Mind

Riffing off old, easily identifiable TV shows in an effort to market new shows is always a tricky affair, since consumers may be misled into thinking more of the same is coming.
Fans of HBO's "Sex and the City" will immediately recognize the similarities in a CBS promo for its new comedy "Worst Week." Like Sarah Jessica Parker's Carrie Bradshaw, star Kyle Bornheimer, who plays Sam Briggs, gets splashed by a bus while walking down a New York City street; meanwhile, a musical theme similar to "Sex"'s Latin-esque theme plays.

Briggs turns to see that the bus has a CBS billboard of the "Worst Week" show. (Bradshaw gets a similar treatment, but that bus ad is for her character's personal column).  The reveal of the "Worst Week" spot has Briggs getting strategically wet in one specific male-centric spot while schoolgirls gawk.

I was buying it -- right up to the last scene. But that single bit of over-the-top humor doesn't seem to work, not against the whole "Sex and the City" theme.

I'll give CBS this, much like the HBO series', the spot has Briggs oblivious to what is going on around him. Yet the show is not really targeting "Sex and the City" fans -- is it? Unlike "Sex," "Worst Week" is about an unbelievable series of unfortunate incidents -- funny, yes -- that can happen to one man in a given week. Bradshaw did get into a spot of bother from time to time, but not like Briggs' mishaps.

CBS does a bit better with another on-air promo for new drama "The Ex List," with Elizabeth Reaser playing Bella Bloom, who is told that she has met her true love already -- one of dozens of guys she has gone out with in her life. In a slow motion, dreamy sequence, guys follow her out of a shop where a psychic tells her the news.

There's a soundtrack from Queen's "Somebody to Love" that accompanies Reaser as she walks through a gauntlet of guys with t-shirts emblazoned with messages like "First Kiss," "Yoga Instructor," "Gym Flirt" and "Happened in Las Vegas." As an homage to ABC's "The Bachelorette," the men all carry white roses and throw them in the air at the end. 

Here CBS captures more of the essence of the show -- whimsical, funny, with an occasional male mystery



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