USA Network is out with a host of promotions to hype up its upcoming comedy “The Starter Wife.”
To kick off the multi-million dollar campaign, the network is taking to the streets with a massive tune-in effort, which includes TV spots and print ads in fashion, lifestyle and entertainment publications. In New York, an out-of-home blitz tied to the show covers commuter rail cards, phone kiosks and oversized wild postings, while billboards and wild posters take center stage in Los Angeles.
“Our goal is always about how to get the highest ratings possible,” said Chris McCumber, senior vice president of marketing and brand strategy at USA Network. “We wanted to make sure this was relatable to everyone out there.”
It approached marketing in two ways. First, it wanted to appeal to fans of Debra Messing, the show’s lead character. And second, it focused on the deeper story of the show about a woman rebuilding her life.
Ponds, the presenting sponsor, played a big role in the marketing blitz. The partnership started with the show’s production and includes product and brand integration, TV spots and contests and sweepstakes (PROMO Xtra, Jan. 16, 2007).
A watch and win promotion offers the chance to win a right-hand diamond ring. Specially marked packages of Ponds carry stickers and a game code. Viewers tune in each Thursday starting May 31 to see if they have the weekly code.
The sweepstakes runs through Aug. 4. Online media, P-OP and print ads support the promotion.
In a separate effort, fans can enter the Fresh Start sweepstakes, which offers a VIP trip for two to Los Angeles for a complete life makeover. Ten first-prize winners will receive a day of pampering at a local spa. Lesser prizes include flower deliveries and “The Starter Wife” branded tote bags.
The sweepstakes at USANetwork.com/Series/StarterWife/Sweepstakes/Freshstart/ runs through July 5.
Next week, USA Network begins filming the winners of Pond’s 40 and Fabulous contest. The promotion sought five 40-something women who best embody the brand. A part of their prize, each woman will be featured in a vignette airing during the five-week-long series.
“The Starter Wife” is a funny series about life after divorce and one woman’s (Debra Messing) quest to redefine herself after years of marriage to a Hollywood studio head. The five-week series premiere at 9 p.m. ET May 31 on USA.
McCumber said the marketing effort is in line with other large campaigns the network has launched for TV programs.
To further spread the word, USA Network is taking over nail and beauty salons and yoga studios. At 64 salons in New York, Connecticut and Los Angeles, branded nail kits with be handed out with emery board, mirror clings, aprons, promotional DVDs handed out.
Last month, partner Essie launched a new line of nail color, the “Starting Over” collection, in 50,000 salons and spas. Each set includes six distinct colors.
At 50 yoga studios in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, San Francisco and Boston, branded yoga mats, tank tops for instructors and branded water bottles for class attendees will be handed out. The Regan Group handles the effort.
Beyond the salons, USA Network has teamed up with W Hotel to host a cocktail party May 17 in Los Angeles and May 24 in New York. Guests can watch clips of the show, receive Essie manicures, Ponds and Too Faced makeup applications and specially created cocktails. Attendees will also receive gift bags with host products. Big Top handles the event.
Partner Too Faced produced 5,000 branded Quickie Chronicles to use as promotional giveaways and retail beauty demonstrations. Meanwhile Nordstrom will offer customers complimentary “fresh start” makeovers.
Viewing parties are also part of the mix. Through Alloy Media + Marketing’s “Insiders” program, fans can create a girls’ night themed to “The Starter Wife.” Members sign up to host parties and share their thoughts about the show with the network.
Under the Trend Setter Screenings, about 300 girls and their friends see an early viewing of the show. Each host gets a “Starter Wife” themed kit, which includes a 30-minute premiere sneak peek, nail kits, martini glasses and recipe guides for all the makings of a party. And the girl with the best party will win a pink Buddy Scooter.
The campaign also includes a cause marketing overlay. USA Network and NBC Universal’s iVillage partnered to designate May as “Re-start Month.” Under the initiative, viewers go to TheStarterWife.iVillage.com/Love/2007/04/Starting_Today_I_Will.html to make a personal pledge to themselves. And for every pledge, USA Network will donate $1 (up to $10,000) to Dress for Success, a non-profit organization that assists low-income women with career development and employment retention.
Online, USA Network offers character profiles, blogs, games and mobile content at USANetwork.com/Series/StarterWife. In addition, it has created five scripted Webisodes, called “Hollywood Wives Dish.” The online series tells stories about the shallowness of Hollywood friendships and offers behind the scene interviews with the show’s cast.