Thank God it's branded! For the first time since NBC's Must-See TV Thursday night lineup and ABC's TGIF comedies ruled the airwaves in the '90s, broadcast networks are once again successfully branding entire nights of programming.
ABC revived the trend in July, aggressively using #TGIT (Thank God It's Thursday) to tout its all-Shonda-Rhimes-produced Thursday fall lineup: Grey's Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder. The night has been a massive success for the network, with all three shows ranking among the top 20 among adults ages 18 to 49 for the first four weeks of the season.
NBC entered the fray a month later with "Woman Crush Wednesdays" (#WomanCrushWednesdays, or #WCW for short), inspired by the popular Wednesday hashtag in which Twitter and Instagram users post names and pictures of females they love. The network's campaign, featuring the female stars of Wednesday night dramas The Mysteries of Laura, Law & Order: SVU, and Chicago P.D., seemed a bit awkward—Debra Messing, Mariska Hargitay and Sophia Bush enjoying a "girls' night out" at a gun range. But it was effective. The lineup is NBC's most successful Wednesday night block in years.
While #WomanCrushWednesdays seemed to be NBC's attempt to follow in ABC's footsteps, an NBC rep tells Adweek that the campaign was not created in response to #TGIT. Instead, the idea simply arose from the fact that the network had three Wednesday shows with strong female leads.
Even if that's the case, networks can't resist cloning anything that's a hit on television, whether that's shows or campaigns. Given the success of both #TGIT and #WCW, they're all likely brainstorming hashtag-friendly campaigns in an effort to brand as many other nights of TV as possible.
Here are 12 branding TV campaigns, many of them a spin on other popular hashtags, that we'd like to see:
1. #PTSD (Post-Traumatic Sports Delay), CBS Sundays
This has caused The Good Wife fans to tear out their hair and hurl their remotes for years now. The CBS Sunday night lineup is supposed to go like this: 60 Minutes at 7 p.m. ET, Madam Secretary at 8 p.m., The Good Wife at 9 p.m., CSI at 10 p.m. But thanks to weekly NFL overruns in the fall and those of spring sports events like the Masters Tournament, the actual start times are always a mystery, and are never the same two Sundays in a row. Will the shows start 13 minutes late? Twenty-five? Thirty-seven? Who knows? One thing is for certain, though: However much extra time you've built into your DVR recording to compensate for the overage, it won't be enough!
2. #TGINTGIF (Thank God It's Not TGIF), ABC Wednesdays
On Wednesdays, ABC boasts a lineup of smart, funny, single-camera comedies with a distinct POV: The Middle, The Goldbergs, Modern Family and Black-ish. In almost every way, they are the polar opposites of the family sitcoms that reigned during ABC's #TGIF era, which were multi-camera, saccharine and stocked with catch phrases. Yes, shows like Full House and Boy Meets World have their loyal fans, but those of us still haunted by the memory of a young Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen screaming "You got it, dude!" couldn't be happier with ABC's inventive Wednesday night lineup.
3. #WCW (Women Crushed Wednesdays), CBS Wednesdays
NBC has been touting its Wednesday lineup of strong women. But with just a small tweak to that campaign, CBS can call attention to its own shows on the same night, which are (sigh) largely devoted to showing females getting tortured, stalked, abducted and/or killed, all in lurid detail, on Criminal Minds and Stalker. Kicking off the night would be Survivor, which is also frequently criticized for its treatment of women. If you want to see women crushed — physically, emotionally and spiritually — this is the night for you!
4. #BLT (Biggest Loser Thursday), NBC Thursdays
This isn't just an ode to The Biggest Loser, which now starts the night at 8 p.m., but also a referendum on just how far NBC's fortunes have fallen on Thursday. The night that for decades was the home to TV's biggest hits like Cheers, The Cosby Show, Seinfeld, Friends and ER, now boasts a lineup (The Bigger Loser, Bad Judge, A to Z and Parenthood) that struggles to stay above 1.0 in the 18-49 rating demo.
5. #TBT (Throwback Thursday), CBS Thursdays
Now that the network's Thursday Night Football package is over, it can promote its lineup of four multicam sitcoms (The Big Bang Theory, Mom, Two and a Half Men, and The McCarthys), a throwback to the decades of TV filled with two-hour multicam comedy blocks. Single-cam sitcoms are more in vogue these days, except on CBS. Do not adjust your sets!
6. #SundayFunday (Sunday Funday), Fox Sundays
The network had to retire its "Animation Domination" Sunday moniker after importing a pair of non-animated sitcoms: Brooklyn Nine-Nine and Mulaney. But as the only comedies on an evening overflowing with serious drama, Fox should still be trumpeting its ability to get laughs. (Okay, I wouldn't call Mulaney "fun," but One of These Things is Not Like the Others Sunday didn't have the same ring to it.)
7. #StillTicking (Still Ticking Friday), CBS Fridays
The ghosts of TV schedules past haunt CBS's Friday slate, which contains three series that you have probably forgotten were still even on the air, unless you watch regularly (and, to be fair, an average of more than 8 million still do): The Amazing Race, Hawaii Five-O and Blue Bloods. Long gone? Nope, still ticking!
8. #WhatsaHashtag (What's a Hashtag? Mondays), ABC Mondays
ABC's Monday combo of Dancing with the Stars (which boasts a median age of above 62) and Castle is one of the oldest-skewing nights of TV. Because older fans are much less active on social media, the hashtag explains their likely response to this campaign.
9. #DontSeeTV (Don't See TV), Saturdays
The broadcasters abandoned Saturday nights as a home for original series years ago, stocking it with repeats instead. Hence, Don't See TV: the first campaign that all the broadcast networks can share.
10. #KevinsFolly (Kevin's Folly), Fox
As Fox's fall schedule has imploded, it's become clear why Kevin Reilly exited as Fox Entertainment chairman in May, shortly after unveiling the lineup. It's now rebuilding time for the network, and Fox could round up all the shows that it blames Reilly for putting/keeping on the air: Utopia, Gracepoint, Mulaney, Red Band Society, plus a slew of low-rated returning series. Hmm, this campaign might need to span multiple nights…
But why let the networks have all the branding fun? As you stream series and empty your DVR throughout the week, create your own branded nights of television, like these two:
Raise a glass or 12 to a lineup featuring TV's biggest lushes: Olivia Pope (Scandal), Alicia Florrick (The Good Wife), Homer Simpson (The Simpsons) and Peter Griffin (Family Guy), and on the cable side, pretty much the entire casts of Mad Men, Cougar Town and Archer. Just don't try to keep pace with them.
"Celebrate" Garfield's, and everyone else's, least favorite day of the week with a collection of the very worst shows TV has to offer. Among my current picks for this hall of shame: Stalker, Manhattan Love Story, The Mysteries of Laura, and Mulaney. Compared to that lineup, Mondays suddenly don't so seem so bad!