USA Network didn’t have to rely on a think tank to learn who its target audience was for miniseries The Starter Wife, based on the novel by Hollywood wife Gigi Levangie Grazer. Starring Debra Messing, the tale about a — take a guess — Hollywood wife whose studio executive husband leaves her for a younger woman was custom-designed for women 18-49. Knowing the target audience is one thing — grabbing its attention is another. USA primed the target for the second-quarter ’07 premiere with a national print campaign featuring an upbeat, you’ll-be-sorry, leggy Messing. She’s ready for a new kind of voyage, and has the bucks to do it in style. Who wouldn’t want to come along? The ad campaign went beyond the usual print mags and ventured to beaches, shopping centers, yoga studios and nail salons. USA also developed a comprehensive marketing partnership with Pond’s, which was also Starter Wife‘s presenting sponsor. Pond’s was incorporated into most of the advertising and worked with USA on a "40 and Fabulous" contest, which invited women to submit personal essays about moving on from the wreckage. Winners were offered a trip to Hollywood and the opportunity to appear in vignettes during the miniseries’ premiere showing. USA neatly wove in a marketing partner that fit The Starter Wife like a glove, or perhaps like a custom-designed black cocktail dress.

Fast Facts

  • The Starter Wife was the No. 1 new series of 2007 among women 18-49.

  • It was the top-rated basic cable telecast in prime time every night it ran during its premiere week, except for the night USA’s Burn Notice premiered.

  • The Starter Wife microsite on got more than 6.7 million page views.

Honorable Mentions:

BBC America for Torchwood — A sizable portion of BBC America’s campaign for the Doctor Who spin-off focused on interactive media, resulting in rich media ads targeted at the technophiles who worship BBCA’s "Supernatural Saturdays" prime-time block.

History Channel for Life After People — History Channel skirted an overwhelming sense of doom with its campaign for a special depicting a post-Homo sapiens Earth. It focussed on what our deserted planet might look like, not what sent the species packing. To reach beyond the channel’s core fans, History invested heavily in outdoor media like lenticular phone booth displays, perhaps causing passersbys to call their clergy for immediate salvation.

MK Advertising for Showtime’s The Tudors Premiere — MK Advertising didn’t defeat itself by trying to be clever in its Tudors ad campaign. It put the show’s sexy cast front and center and drained away any sense that this was a period piece. Never mind historical context, the ads screamed this is about good-looking people doing nasty things to each other.

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