LOS ANGELES (thefutoncritic.com) -- In what's being billed as an "unprecedented marketing initiative," the WB will offer AOL users the complete first episode of its new fall drama "Jack & Bobby" online in an effort to drum up buzz for the series.
The news was announced yesterday via press release:
THE WB AND WARNER BROS. TELEVISION TEAM UP WITH AMERICA ONLINE FOR A FIRST-EVER ADVANCE SNEAK PREVIEW OF ONE OF THE FALL'S MOST HIGHLY ANTICIPATED NEW SERIES, "JACK & BOBBY," EXCLUSIVELY FOR AOL� FOR BROADBAND SUBSCRIBERS GROUNDBREAKING INITIATIVE TAKES MARKETING ON THE INTERNET TO A NEW PLATEAU
In an unprecedented marketing initiative, The WB and Warner Bros. Television will team up with AOL� Television to offer a special advance sneak preview of one of the fall's most critically acclaimed and highly anticipated new series, "Jack & Bobby," exclusively for AOL for Broadband subscribers. The marketing arrangement signals the first time a network program has aired in its entirety online before its broadcast premiere.
The commercial-free episode will be available online and on-demand exclusively to AOL for Broadband subscribers at AOL Keyword: Jack & Bobby. In the first week of this two-week promotion, kicking off in late August, both AOL for Broadband and AOL dial-up subscribers can watch an extended trailer of the show. The next week, AOL for Broadband subscribers can view the entire pilot episode, from beginning-to-end or in segments, and will see tune-in information for the series at the open and close of the show. The initiative will also include an integrated promotional push on AOL focused toward the series' premiere on The WB slated for Sunday, September 12 at 9:00 pm (ET/PT).
"In a crowded environment, we have to be aggressive in finding ways to get our shows sampled and this is definitely aggressive," said Suzanne Kolb, Executive Vice President of Marketing at The WB. "Similar to a theatrical preview screening, this will stimulate word of mouth for an exceptional program in the weeks prior to premiere. AOL has been a great partner for many years now and this is the next extension of that relationship. All we did to get AOL to agree to do this was show them the pilot and after watching it, they jumped on board quickly."
"This initiative with The WB and Warner Bros. Television demonstrates a whole new way for television networks and studios to introduce new shows and drive sampling among potential audiences," said Patricia Karpas, Vice President and General Manager, AOL Television. "The combination of AOL Television's large and engaged fan base with the capabilities of AOL for Broadband provides an ideal platform for this innovative promotional effort. The fact that we're doing it with such a fantastic new show like 'Jack & Bobby' just makes it all the more special for us, as it provides compelling exclusive content to our AOL for Broadband subscribers."
"Jack & Bobby" has been getting rave reviews from critics and advertisers since it was screened at the May sales upfronts in New York. The series is executive produced by multiple Emmy-winner Thomas Schlamme ("The West Wing," "ER") and Greg Berlanti ("Everwood," "Dawson's Creek") and stars Christine Lahti as a single mother raising two teenage boys. What they don't know, but the audience does, is that one of the brothers will go on to become the greatest American President of the 21st century. The series paints an optimistic picture of the future and will deal with how a young boy is molded through childhood to become one of our great leaders.
"Once in a while you are fortunate enough to work on a project that not only is very well done, but has a wonderful message in it that can be inspiring to everyone in the family, and "Jack & Bobby" is that kind of project," said Thomas Schlamme. "This is a show whose best sales tool is the show itself and that is why we encouraged The WB to go forward with this innovative promotion. When people see it, we all believe they will come back to it on a regular basis."
"We're all ecstatic to be part of a landmark promotional effort which is another example of The WB and Warner Bros. Television's commitment to creating buzz and ensuring that the maximum amount of people tune in to the show," said Greg Berlanti. "We believe in word of mouth marketing, especially on a project this special."
"Anything we can do to get people to see this show, the more assured we are of success," said David Janollari, President, Entertainment, The WB. "It's that good."
In March 2004, The WB, Warner Bros. Television and AOL Television teamed up to make a full episode of the hit drama EVERWOOD available online, exclusively to AOL for Broadband subscribers, for a full week beginning the day after a repeat airing of the episode on television. The promotional initiative was designed to encourage sampling among consumers during the week leading into the start of a series of new episodes. In all, the episode was viewed more than 150,000 times by AOL for Broadband subscribers. In an exit survey, nearly 90% of respondents said they were satisfied with the experience, and 92% said they'd like to see more of that kind of programming online. Among the respondents who said they'd never seen EVERWOOD before, 74% indicated they would like to watch it in the future.
JACK & BOBBY, starring Christine Lahti ("Chicago Hope"), is a powerful and poignant new one-hour drama about two bright young brothers, Jack (newcomer Matt Long) and Bobby McCallister (Logan Lerman, "The Butterfly Effect"). Growing up under the watchful eye of their eccentric single-parent mother Grace McCallister (Lahti). Grace's personality is a force of nature destined to shape both of these young men's lives and secure one a place in the history books- as President of the United States.
Created by Berlanti & Vanessa Taylor and Steve Cohen and Brad Meltzer, JACK & BOBBY is executive produced by Berlanti ("Dawson's Creek," "Everwood"), Mickey Liddell ("Everwood," "Go") and Thomas Schlamme ("The West Wing," "Ally McBeal"). It is produced by Berlanti/Liddell Productions and Shoe Money Productions in association with Warner Bros. Television Production Inc.
AOL Television is the premier destination for TV fans who want to be informed, engaged and entertained.� Its newest feature, TV's Top 5, optimally experienced through AOL for Broadband, lets members, relive, rate and talk about the top TV moments from the previous day. Other AOL Television offerings include extensive, personalized listings; the ability for TiVo� home networking members to record programs directly to their TiVo units through AOL; sneak peeks and exclusive video from today's most popular shows; polls, message boards and chats where TV fans can voice their opinions; and AOL� Alerts and Reminders to help ensure members don't miss their favorite programs.