A&E Commits ‘Random 1’ Acts of Kindness

NEW YORK A&E Network is promoting its take on the emerging “good Samaritan” genre of reality programming, Random 1, with a street team promotion that aims to make New Yorkers, of all people, feel the love at least for one day.

Like ABC’s Three Wishes and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition before it, Random 1 aims to change lives episode by episode, this one in a road trip format. A&E’s co-hosts, Andre Miller and John Chester, ramble around the country in a rusty pick-up truck in search of ordinary people with extraordinary problems.

“It’s not a show that decided to give wishes away,” said Artie Scheff, svp of marketing for A&E Networks, and will not show the hosts solving people’s problems with a network production budget. Unlike other shows, conceived of and cast by TV executives, Scheff said A&E stumbled upon the hosts already operating an “undercover philanthropic organization” of the same name and signed them for the series. The show will feature Miller and Chester carrying out their 10-year vocation—making connections between people who need help and the people and businesses that can give it.

Scheff said A&E wanted to reflect the grass-roots nature of Random 1‘s good-deed doing in its marketing of the show, so it named the day of the series premiere, Nov. 1, “Random 1derful Day.”

On Tuesday, street teams organized by Civic Entertainment Group in New York will canvas New York, Chicago and Los Angeles, offering small—and random—acts of kindness such as free transit rides and coffee. Other people, again picked at random, will receive gratis giveaways such as CDs and DVDs from A&E partner Virgin Megastore, roundtrip tickets from Southwest Airlines, video games from Electronic Artists, cell phones from Nokia and digital cameras from Canon, among others. The good deedees will also receive a branded tune-in card and one of five pass-it-on “kindness coupons.”

“The show should inspire people to give kindness away, and Random 1derful Day should inspire people to give kindness away and watch the show,” Scheff said.

The program is also supported by a campaign that broke in mid-October and includes TV, radio, print and outdoor ads tagged “Helping total strangers along the way.” Print ads, by the Pere Partnership in New York, show the hosts next to license plates that reflect the various “states” in which they find people. One Arizona plate, for example, reads “PICT ON” while a Pennsylvania tag says “PWR LESS.”

Horizon Media is handling media buying.