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New NBC Sitcom Experiences Viral Marketing Failure

Can viral marketing failures sink a product before it even sails?

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New NBC Sitcom Experiences Viral Marketing Failure
[ Social Media]

There’s a thought that no press is bad press, and while that maybe true for folks like Marilyn Manson, someone from the land of music who was as concerned with shocking as he was entertaining the masses, it’s not true for yet-to-be consumed items that want to get off to a good start with would-be consumers. If your product has been treated like rancid meat before it hits the shelves, or in this case, the television sets, the product may be dead on arrival, never getting a real chance to succeed.

That unpleasant reality is something that faces an upcoming sitcom that’s scheduled to appear on NBC’s Fall lineup. Based on the reaction of the Twitterverse, NBC’s new rom-com sitcom, Whitney may have failed before its first viewer has even seen it.

In order to promote Whitney, NBC put up a bunch of billboards in the major cities, all with the idea of spreading the word and catching the eyes of folks who are looking for that special show to call their own. One of the billboards, which comes courtesy of the Daily Billboard Facebook page, leads this article, and to say the Twitter reaction to it and the others was quite derisive is something of an understatement:

Whitney Billboard

Of course, the Twitter hashtag that followed these reactions–#RejectedWhitneyPromo–is a definite clue as to which way the reaction was leaning. As pointed out by Jake Kroeger over at the Nerdist, which has since removed the article in question, the reaction to these Whitney billboards was, in a word, snarky.

The thing is, it wasn’t just random viewers who were reacting negatively. It was people who could be considered peers of the show’s leads. From the removed article, which is still alive in my Google Reader:

If you go check #RejectedWhitneyPromo right now, you’ll find comedians, writers, etc. of all levels of notoriety bashing the show without the first episode having even made it to air.

And so, we checked, and guess what? Kroeger’s right. Reaction to the upcoming Whitney, thanks in large part to those maligned billboards, is harsh. So much so, in fact, the idea of the show being doomed before it even airs seems like a real possibility. It doesn’t help that the early buzz concerning Whitney is also of the “meh” kind.

From AVClub’s Fall Season preview:

To put it bluntly, Whitney’s pilot is clumsy. Sure, the show wants to be edgy and different, but a huge chunk of the first episode involves Cummings in a sexy nurse’s uniform—a desperate appeal to the lowest common denominator that sitcoms don’t usually resort to until a little further down the line. As a character, Whitney says a lot of unrelated witty things, but Cummings the real-life showrunner hasn’t figured out what she wants the character to say in a broader sense.

Based on that, it would be surprising if Whitney survived its first season, but then again, and as Kroeger points out in his post, Two and Half Men is wildly successful, so predicting these things is not an exact science.

Nevertheless, as indicated, the early Twitter reaction to Whitney, powered via the #RejectedWhitneyPromo hashtag, and to the promotional content has not been pleasant, but this first one, well, it just makes me laugh:

We swear to god she’s 29! #RejectedWhitneyPromo 20 hours ago via Twitter for Android · powered by @socialditto

“more proof that writing while drunk = comedy gold” #RejectedWhitneyPromo 22 hours ago via web · powered by @socialditto

“She says what you’re thinking! (Especially if you’re an idiot!)”
#RejectedWhitneyPromo 22 hours ago via web · powered by @socialditto

The only thing that would make this show funnier would be some jokes. #RejectedWhitneyPromo 2 days ago via Tweetbot for iPhone · powered by @socialditto

We couldn’t afford to bring back Mama’s Family #RejectedWhitneyPromo 2 days ago via web · powered by @socialditto

If you don’t feel like reading all of that, just watch this mash-up promotional video for the upcoming show:


If that doesn’t get you in the mood, nothing will.

Now, I’m not entirely sure why Whitney is the only new fall show to be taking a beating like this. I mean, H8R sounds like absolute trash, but yet, it doesn’t have much of a Twitter presence, at least in regards to the venom Whitney is receiving.

Based on this, do you think Whitney has a fighting chance to make it to a second season or did NBC’s attempt at viral promotion blow the whole thing up before it even aired? I will say, however, based on the all the negative reaction, it’s almost impossible to not watch at least one segment of Whitney when it airs. From that perspective, maybe NBC didn’t fail after all.

New NBC Sitcom Experiences Viral Marketing Failure
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  • http://www.webpronews.com/ Jeremy Muncy

    The show looks atrocious.

    • Chester

      I agree.

  • Chester

    It’s not that the attempt at viral marketing failed, it’s the the attempt at viraly marketing a shit product that failed. Hopefully, this is a sign that society is starting to stop listening to what the networks say we are supposed to like and force them to come up with actual entertainment that we will like by our own accord.

  • Pete

    Now is a series of billboards considered a viral campaign? Or is that simply part of an overall strategic campaign? I’m not saying the billboard series is a smart strategic campaign. Anything but. But you must consider the definition of “viral”. Viral is something that gets passed around. There’s a negative buzz about the show’s billboards that is trending, sure. But the actual billboards are not getting passed around.

    • http://www.webpronews.com/ Chris Richardson

      The viral aspect comes more from the reaction on Twitter.