by Alyssa Geisler
This week television networks UPN and the WB are merging to become the new CW. Around the country, fans mourn their passing and welcome with whatever emotions the new network. Last night was the last broadcasting of the WB and UPN, and now CW has taken over the airwaves.
Besides some snarky comments about the rationale behind combining the WB’s Gilmore Girls with UPN’s WWE Friday Night SmackDown, the news about the merger has been limited to their plans to combine and decisions about what shows would be aired from each network. Now the fall season is about to begin. The most public aspect of the new network is its marketing campaign targeted at a young female audience of eighteen to thirty-four year olds. In short, my peers and I. So, here I am to explain what CW’s marketing techniques really communicate to me.
Let’s start with the name: CW was born out of the coupling of CBS and Time-Warner, the parent companies behind UPN and the WB respectively. The name doesn’t really leave much of a taste in my mouth, except the flavor of vanity. No bonus points for creativity here.
The network has also chosen to go with a completely green theme. The colors scream “Hey, look at me! I’m new, young, hip, and exciting!” And it’s true, I do like the color scheme. But it’s almost to the point of blindingly over the top, and they could work on the subtlety.
The CW’s slogan, “Free to be [insert adjective here],” again both attracts and repulses me. At first glance, the ads I see at the bus stop or around town look nice – a big picture focused on one show, lots of green, and an attempt at a playful phrase. But the idea is a little too insubstantial for me. What do they mean? What do I need to be freed from? When the sign tells me I’m “Free To Be Bald,” next to a picture of Smallville’s villain Lex Luther, I have trouble not laughing at how lame it is.
If the CW is trying to grab my attention and hold it, the network is going to have to take a different route. The name has no real meaning. No color is going to keep me tuned in every night, and the slogan is just an empty idea that sounds good but doesn’t convey anything substantial. My suggestion? Catch my interest with substance. Run more than two new shows, and maybe dump a couple of the duds that are still going to air.
(The graphic that accompanies this story is just one example of the network's promotional campaign.)
by Alyssa Geisler