Paul Holmes 26 Mar 2003 // 12:00AM GMT
We were hired to launch the new primetime sitcom, “Grounded for Life”. The series received an order of six episodes and debuted on Wednesday January 10th, 2001 on the FOX Television Network at 8:30 p.m.
Our challenge was to create enough media interest to drive viewership so that the show would receive a full season pick-up.
- Create a highly successful multi-tiered launch campaign to draw attention to “Grounded for Life.”
- Brand the show so that it speaks to its targeted audience.
- Build recognition for the cast members in both the teen and adult media.
- Drive tune-in to the show to garner strong ratings.
“Grounded For Life” was conceived to appeal to a wide variety of viewers. We did research to determine which elements of the show would appeal to which demographics. The concept of the show was young parents who vacillate between accepting parental responsibilities and rejecting them because of their own immaturity. Through test screenings and focus groups, we determined, that the show had a tremendous appeal to teens. What teens liked about the show was that the kids were often more witty than the adults. Adults related to the parents Sean and Claudia and their situations.
We held strategic meetings with both our LA and New York based teams to determine a plan that would cast a spotlight on the show. We met with each of the cast members’ representatives to discuss the level of promotion that each member would be able to give the show due to their work schedules and other time constraints.
Although all cast members previously had a variety of parts in numerous projects, none of them were established television or film stars. Donal Logue had recently starred in a popular independent film, “The Tao of Steve” and had done a great deal of publicity surrounding the film. Therefore, the media was reluctant to focus their attention on him so soon after. Our challenge was to raise press awareness for each of the cast members and the show, which was difficult due to the fact that the cast was primarily unknowns. Our second challenge had to deal with the fact that the show had only been picked up for six initial episodes, making it difficult to get journalists to write about it since they were unsure if it would be on the air past six weeks. We had to convince the media that this show was worthy of their attention and had staying power.
PLANNING / STRATEGIC APPROACH
Online: Our research indicated that teens are looking more and more to websites for their favorite stars rather than the teen magazines. Magazines running from $2 - $5 dollars a piece are costly for teens getting by on a weekly allowance from their parents. Teens can access the same information and pictures, if not more, through Internet access at school or at home. Lynsey Bartilson, playing the role of 16-year-old Lily was our primary driving force in the teen sector. Our main goal being to position her along the same lines as the cast of “Seventh Heaven” and “That 70’s Show.” Our plan was to place Lynsey along with other cast members on different chats and web pages, resulting in a ratings jump and traffic to the newly developed “Grounded for Life” website.
We secured front-page features on AOL’s Family Page for Lynsey and Griffin Frazen along with links to the “Grounded for Life” web page and a virtual tour of the set. We set up a chat sessions with Lynsey on Fox.com and a chat with all of the cast members on Yahoo.com.
Broadcast: With teens being our primary target audience, we realized that both online and broadcast media were our main channels for viewership. We focused our outreach to entertainment magazine shows like E.T. and morning news broadcasts due to their focus on entertainment and lifestyle topics. Sam Rubin of the KTLA Morning News broadcasted live from the “Grounded” set giving the show a tremendous amount of promotion. We secured guest appearances for Donal Logue on The Rosie O’Donnell Show, MTV, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, Fox and Friends and The Tonight Show. Extra, Entertainment Tonight, Access Hollywood and E! all made set visits and broadcasted feature coverage of the show prior to the series premiere.
Radio: Radio is an often-overlooked promotional tool that Rogers & Cowan never underestimates. Radio has the ability to reach both a large amount of audiences along with a more targeted market. We secured radio tours for the entire cast with Westwood One and CBS Radio, reaching the top 50 markets.
Print: One of our greatest challenges was with the print media. The show, only initially picked up for six episodes, initially garnered little interest from print journalists because they didn’t want to write about a show that was perceived to be short-lived. We concentrated our efforts on publications that were going to be seen by teen audiences as well as a broad adult audience. We secured a TV Book cover in the Los Angeles Times along with close-ups on each of the cast members. TV Guide did an insider feature on Donal Logue, a grapevine piece on Megyn Price and a close-up on the cast. We sent a sneak peak of the show to Bill Carter at the New York Times, which resulted in him writing a positive column about the show. We secured a feature for Donal Logue in USA Today and Lynsey Bartlinson had features in the teen magazines Tiger Beat, Bop and J14.
Online: The placement of Lynsey and Griffin on the family page of AOL along with a link to the “Grounded for Life” website garnered 20 million page views each day. As a result, the traffic to the “Grounded” website grew considerably along with teen recognition of both Lynsey and Griffin. The chats on both Fox.com and Yahoo.com both drew a large audience and participants, and also resulted in increased daily hits on the “Grounded” website.
Broadcast: Rogers & Cowan successfully leveraged both Lynsey’s and Donal’s celebrity to secure multiple bookings with many of the top media outlets such as the The Tonight Show, Entertainment Tonight, E!, Access Hollywood, Extra and The Rosie O’Donnell Show among many others.
Radio: The Westwood One radio tour and the CBS radio tour both reached the top 50 markets targeting time slots that were able to garner the most teen impressions while still reaching the adult target market.
Ratings: Despite a first season with a mostly unknown cast, “Grounded for Life” survived the first six episodes and was given a full pick-up and renewed for a second season. Ratings experienced a considerably high start and made a jump by a full rating point throughout the season.
Print: Our plan to send a sneak peak of the series to Bill Carter secured us a positive column in The New York Times. By securing TV Book covers and features in the TV Guide along with features in three teen publications, all with large circulations, we were able to garner millions of teen media impressions along with media impressions among a wide variety of adult demographics