Last fall, ABC successfully branded an entire night of programming with TGIT (Thank God It's Thursday). Now the network has begun singing the praises of a second night of shows: Welcome, ABC Funny.
That's the name the network has settled on for its Wednesday comedy lineup—The Middle, The Goldbergs, Modern Family and Black-ish—which for the first time, returns unchanged from last season. (All four sitcoms' season premieres are tonight.)
The network, which has tweaked its Wednesday-night lineup every season since Modern Family debuted in 2009, finally found all the right pieces last year. "Black-ish is the first show that meshes with and fits as a companion piece to Modern Family," said Marla Provencio, evp of marketing and CMO at ABC Entertainment. "You look at the whole night, and progressively, it really is a family-comedy night—and it feels organic and right. So we looked at it just the way we looked at TGIT and saw that this was a night that needed to have its own brand."
The network has been using the new ABC Funny branding in spots like this one for tonight's season premieres:
But unlike its TGIT shows, which by definition are specific to Thursday nights, the network is being more fluid with its ABC Funny designation, also using it in spots for its Tuesday and Friday comedies: returning series Last Man Standing and Fresh Off the Boat, and new comedies Dr. Ken and The Muppets. All of the shows fit the network's "smart with heart" brand, says Provencio.
"We thought it's not just funny, it's ABC Funny, because it has the humor, the heart and that loving message," she said. "It always makes you feel something. I always feel as a marketer that if you can bring people in to feel something—whether it's anger, happiness, joy or any kind of emotion that sparks from something—then we've done our job to secure that viewer's interest and passion for the show."
ABC Funny comes a year after ABC successfully rolled out TGIT to brand its Thursday-night lineup of dramas from superproducer Shonda Rhimes: Grey's Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder. The moniker was a nod to TGIF, which ABC had used for its hit '90s family sitcoms like Full House and Family Matters.
And while branding a second night of TV would seem like a no-brainer after the popularity of TGIT, the task was easier said than done. "You have to have the right shows, the right sensibility, and they have to all work within that kind of framework to be ready to put some type of seal on that," said Provencio. "When we saw the comedies, we knew it was the right time to do it."
As it did last year with TGIT, ABC started its ABC Funny rollout this summer with image spots. "A lot of times it's really hard, given the amount of time we have on air to promote everything," said Provencio. "And the great thing about success is that you want to promote everything that you're successful with. And so it makes it harder to find that time to do these image spots. But we love when we do that."