WINNER: TNT FOR THE CLOSER

After two successful seasons, the objective for The Closer‘s third run was straightforward: raise ratings again. Easier said than done — the majority of cable series traditionally lose ratings points as seasons progress. TNT’s PR team convinced the press that The Closer‘s return in June 2007 was an event, not just an item skimmed over in listings or highlights. To do so, it turned, appropriately, to its closer.

The Closer media relations campaign centered on the star power of Golden Globe-winning actress Kyra Sedgwick, scheduling press conferences and interviews to discuss her Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild awards nominations. A strong magazine campaign featured Sedgwick and supporting cast members in several publications, and daytime and late-night viewers could catch Sedgwick for the full week leading up to the season premiere. Several cast members also completed radio tours. TNT managed to get saturation coverage in newspapers, nabbing feature stories, highlights and reviews in top 40 markets. TNT also hired a photographer to chronicle the first day back on set and provided images to TV Guide, which ran a behind-the-scenes page of photos. In short, if you’ve got Kyra, flaunt her.

Fast Facts

  • Devoted viewers, or "ambassadors," were invited to participate in a conference call with series creator and executive producer James Duff.

  • TNT held screenings of the season premiere in 11 cities.

  • The Closer beat its own ratings record for top ad-supported telecast of all time with the season-three premiere. The episode garnered 9.5 million viewers and 6.9 million households, with average season-three ratings up 6.5, compared to 5.5 in season two.

 

Honorable Mentions:

AMC for Mad Men — To position its first original scripted drama series Mad Men as must-see, watercooler TV, AMC took a multitiered approach: print and broadcast campaigns; talent interviews and covers; on-set press coverage; photo features; private screenings and panels; and an Internet presence.

ESPN for The Bronx Is Burning — The ESPN PR team hit it out of the ballpark when it provided the media with access to the cast, crew, ESPN executives and former Yankees players and personnel throughout filming and the series’ debut.

Hallmark Channel for The Note — If you only had a minute, what would you write? Hallmark invited viewers to answer that question via online forums and other schemes in a multilayered, months-long media campaign for Hallmark Channel original movie The Note. Another tactic? Airplane-pulled banners featuring the Web address were flown over select cities.

Showtime Networks for The Tudors Season 1 — Charismatic star Jonathan Rhys Meyers and the show’s strong supporting cast were themselves the campaign’s crowning message, along with the perception that the show was not a historical documentary but, instead, a fresh production that would establish Showtime as a producer of original, diverse programming.

Rogers & Cowan for PBS’ WordWorld — R&C got the word out to media and PBS partners by touting the educational benefits of WordWorld. Initiatives included notifying top national and regional parenting publications; distributing screeners to top 20 market TV feature writers and critics; and circulating regular e-mail updates highlighting media coverage to top 20 market PBS station publicists and programmers.

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