Tag Archives: cougar town

Cougar Town Explores Social Engagement During Hiatus: #Win

*edited 4/9/11 6:11pm

Since Cougar Town went on hiatus two months ago, Creator/Executive Producer Bill Lawrence has been hitting the Internet. Hard.

While it looks like he is genuinely enjoying the engagement with fans, I’ve been wondering if it was all a final push to get viewership up for the show’s return on April 18. Turns out, it is. And I think that’s brilliant.

It begun innocently enough with @VDOOZER and @kbiegel tagged on the title screen of CT’s last episode with an invitation to stay in touch. I immediately accepted, and found out we’d be treated to some hiatus fun with Cougar Town: Writers Vs. Actors mini videos on Vulture.

I’m a sucker for behind the scenes stuff anyways, and these weekly clips were awesome – hilarious, a perfect length, and featured cast, crew, and writers. The best part was that Bill and Kevin owned it from the beginning.

Then last week, Bill announced his takeover of the Scrubs Facebook page. It was then I realized two things:

  1. This is a Cougar Town viewership mission, and I love the strategy.
  2. I’m going to cry if it doesn’t work.

I’ve never seen a television producer go to such lengths to engage fans. Yeah, we can assume Bill’s motive is to bump viewership, but if you look at the way he talks to people on Twitter and watch the homegrown videos he’s recently posted on Facebook, one thing is blatantly clear: He loves what he’s doing – and he believes in it. And damn it, that’s why I have such an enormous man-crush on him.

Regardless of what happens with Cougar Town, I think this is a great strategy. Fans love talking to the stars and producers of their favorite shows. Social media lets the actors and creators listen and engage on a  level that is totally unprecedented. This is incredibly powerful, and if applied to TV shows, could be a serious tool for bumping viewership – but it has to be done in the right way. This mission would have been radically different if an intern was posting all the content. They aren’t – I checked:

http://twitter.com/#!/VDoozerAsst/status/52896912407408640

Success lies in truth. Bill standing there in Christa’s bathroom recording himself in the mirror is REAL. Hell, I’ve taken pictures of myself that way. He’s managed to break the barriers of fame and show himself as someone accessible to you and me. Seriously, isn’t that AWESOME? I really think this type of engagement strategy could revolutionize the way we experience entertainment.

As Hill Holliday’s Mike Proulx said, “TV is not dying. It is changing and getting better.”

In the end, I only want to know one thing: Who’s idea was it? Bill’s? Kevin’s? ABC’s?? (god I hope it wasn’t ABC).

Does anyone have other examples of how TV producers/creators are personally engaging fans through social media? I’d love to find some more examples like this!

*edited 4/9/11 6:11pm: Talk about an epic end to #failweek. Slightly embarrassed.

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Cougar Town + Product Placement: “Is somebody filming this?”

I’m just gonna say this up front: Bill Lawrence is a genius.

My love affair with his mind began the summer of 2005, when I was driving a boat in Glacier National Park (that’s a story for another day).  One of my co-captains had Scrubs: Season 1 on DVD. The rest is history.

When Scrubs finally went off the air, I was immensely pleased that Mr. Genius applied himself elsewhere – Cougar Town. This show has gotten a bad rap due to the (let’s face it) awful name, and the first few episodes which tested some sub par waters. But trust me, now the show is a great one – incredibly well-written and witty with amazing actors, and downright hilarious most of the time.

I was fascinated by this week’s episode where Bobby sports Dr. Pepper gear on the golf course. My mind immediately was filled with a lively discussion:

Wait, is that product placement?

Um yes Eleanor, don’t be dense.

That’s so interesting, why are they doing that? Is it a joke?

No, because the first commercial break clearly states Dr. Pepper’s support for the episode.

So why are they doing it?

The questions were still bouncing around in my head while I biked to work this morning.

Do they need the money? How much do you think they get from having Bobby wear the apparel and be calmed at the sound of a fresh can of Dr. P being cracked open?

Is Bill Lawrence selling out? Or was this a move by ABC in which the producers had no say? (I wouldn’t be surprised)

Or maybe product placement is just so damn prevalent in our lives that it’s natural for prime-time shows to integrate it (yes).

In that first scene, the show acknowledges the placement almost immediately with a line from Travis: “Wait, is this being filmed?” This technique of acknowledgment is used often in TV and film – usually to fill in a plot hole or give a reason why something impossible is happening. So, does this quick statement make it “ok” to advertise for Dr. Pepper during the show? Does it appease the audience enough?

I find this kind of stuff absolutely riveting. The way media works today is so complicated…and I want to know ALL OF IT! I want to know why they chose Dr. Pepper, and their reasoning for making it such a large part of this week’s episode!

I wish I could get inside Bill Lawrence’s brain and camp out for a while. The man is amazing. And being married to Christa Miller is a huge bonus…she’s a hottie.

The Paley Center for Media discussion with the cast and crew of Cougar Town is amazing. You can watch clips (that I selected for Paley!) for free on Hulu. The discussion only covers Season 1, but it still give fabulous insight to the show and Bill Lawrence as creator/producer.