Splices of Life for Nick at Nite

NEW YORK Ever had one of those days at work, when you just wanted to crawl into bed … with the Huxtables?

The Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., knows how you feel. In a three-spot campaign for Nickelodeon’s Nick at Nite TV lineup, which broke on Sunday, contemporary people are spliced into classic 1980s TV programs, including The Cosby Show and Family Ties.

In one spot, two twentysomethings guys enter the Huxtables bedroom, much as Vanessa and Rudy might have done. “We had one of those days,” one of them says. “The server went down at work.” “Maybe the two of you should sleep with us tonight,” suggests Mrs. Huxtable. The young men look relieved and mention they brought an air bed. The tagline: “Reunite. Every Nite. Nick at Nite.”

“We were trying to communicate that shows on Nick at Nite have characters that are like old friends that people kind of like to spend time with,” said Bob Meagher, creative director on the campaign. “There’s an emotional connection people have with the characters, that’s their big selling point.”

Another ad features a bearded hipster spliced into a Family Ties episode in place of Andy Keaton, a baby on the program. A third spot features the show Cheers.

The creative team, including copywriter Pat McKay and art director Mark Schruntek, scoured 30-40 episodes of each show to find appropriate places to incorporate people. The splicing was done with a heavy hand on purpose. “We wanted it to be obvious that we were putting in 2003 characters combined with old footage,” Meagher said.

Devin Bousquet of Grey Box in Richmond edited the ads, which are running on spot cable channels including Nickelodeon, the Discover Channel, TBS, TNT and Lifetime. An outdoor component will run in New York.

Spending was undisclosed. Nickelodeon spent about $5 million in measured media on ads in 2002, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR.