October 15, 2008
Why the heck would TBS run so many FrankTV ads during the postseason?
Jeff Gregor, the chief marketing officer for TBS and TNT, has obviously been asked the question more than once. Before I could even spit it out of my mouth, he asked a question of his own.
"You like 'em?"
I was caught offguard, not expecting our conversation to start out that way.
"I do," I said. "... But there are a lot of them."
As most of you know, FrankTV ads have become as synonymous with baseball playoff games as red, white and blue bunting. It seems like every time there is a commercial break during one of these games, Frank Caliendo pops up on the screen again. Read enough blogs and listen to enugh water cooler talk and you know the constant sight of Caliendo and his "friends" has annoyed some viewers who are sick of seeing the comedian all the time. Maybe you're sick of him yourself.
"I think we feel that as long as we have a variety of spots, and that the spots are all different, and that you get a wink and a nod every time a FrankTV spot comes on that, there will not be that wear-out factor," Gregor said. "I could make a point that there are quite a few commercials that run on television that run repeatedly and yet they still cut through.
"... We made it a point that if we're going to run a heavy rotation of FrankTV ads, we're going to make sure at least that there's a very good variety so that there will be no wear-out of the various jokes that Frank is entertaining us with."
It seems hard to believe, but Gregor also pointed out that there are in fact, fewer FrankTV ads running this postseason as compared to the last. He knew the FrankTV ads would become a lightning rod again, but figured that the playoff platform was to too big not to take advantage of. So they decided to cut back (even if it's hard for the rest of us to tell.)
"Last year, we were part of the story," Gregor admitted. "Or (the FrankTV ads) were part of the story, and we knew that even if we ran less commercials this year, it would still be part of the story, because the spots are so distinctive, so different, and are playing to a large audience inside of baseball (telecasts)."
Gregor is also of the belief that the spots are just that good, and that is why people are drawn to them.
"This is just a hypothesis on my side: You think there are a lot of (FrankTV) spots, but there's actually not as many as you think," Gregor said. "They're just so good at entertaining and engaging that when they come on you feel like you just saw one not too long ago."
At this point, I will have to agree to disagree with Mr. Gregor. I enjoy Caliendo's comedy most of the time, but at this point I've seen the ads so much that I'm starting to tune them out. Even Caliendo himself acknowledged that the ads for his show were on a lot.
But, before you laugh off Gregor's assertion as pure fiction, consider this: During each three-hour game, the Turner execs only get 2 minutes and 30 seconds of promotion time for their own shows, like FrankTV. While most of us think even that number is too high, it's certain that the FrankTV ads are making an impact on their audience — exactly the way Gregor and company drew it up.