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It was shocking how little awareness most people had about most shows. 66% of the population has never even heard of TRANSPARENT, despite all the hype. 56% has never heard of VEEP even with all the Emmy wins and the fact that it’s been on for years.
On the other hand, there are some shows that are so well-known, so popular, that just a nickname suffices. AMERICAN IDOL became known as simply “IDOL.” A typical promo would start: “Tonight, on a new IDOL…” People at the watercooler would say, “Did you see ABBEY (for DOWNTON ABBEY) or THRONES last night? Or “HOUSEWIVES?”
In some cases it makes sense if the show has a long title. IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA has sort of just become SUNNY. It’s a shorthand that big hit shows have the luxury of employing.
But it has to be a hit. It almost signifies that the show has become an actual “thing.” A pop culture darling. So many people know the show (and fondly) that you don’t even have to say the entire title. There can be only one IDOL and there’s no confusion that it’s referring to a certain television show.
Okay. Recently, I saw a promo on CBS for their Monday comedies. And the promo ended with “And an all-new DONUTS.” Do you know what DONUTS is?
It’s referencing a midseason show introduced just a couple of months ago called SUPERIOR DONUTS. I imagine a lot of you are still scratching your heads. Considering how few people have ever heard of VEEP, and that’s been on for six years, what is the awareness level of SUPERIOR DONUTS? Yes, VEEP is on HBO, but it’s also won Emmys on CBS. If there’s one cable channel people know it’s HBO and Julia Louis-Dreyfus is a pretty recognizable star. (I always hate mentioning Julia Louis-Dreyfus because I always have to look up the spelling of her name. I absolutely adore her but she would get way more blog mentions if her name was Julia Hall. Just sayin’.)
This is not to knock SUPERIOR DONUTS. It’s the promo department. I guess they think that by using the shorthand version of the title they are trying to convince the audience that it’s more popular or zeitgeisty than it is. But they’re doing the show a disservice. It’s hard enough to get on promos. Especially these days when viewers are bombarded with shows and titles. This is the most common complaint showrunners have with networks. And even if they get airtime they still sometimes get gyped. I used to see :30 promos on ABC that hyped MODERN FAMILY for :25 of it and then tagged it with, “followed by a new episode of THE MIDDLE.” Gee thanks.
But my point, regarding SUPERIOR DONUTS is this: Why waste their precious few seconds by identifying the show by an ambiguous word? When people think of “donuts” they don’t automatically think of Judd Hirsch. Sorry, but that’s the truth.
It also makes CBS look like some 70 year-old trying to act like a hipster.
New shows need all the help they can get. They’re no longer allowed to have opening titles. They’re no longer allowed to have theme songs. All they have is their title. The least network promos can do is say their complete title – even if that title is two whole words.
And it gets worse. Here's an ad that doesn't say the title at all: