The premiere of SLEEPY HOLLOW on FOX was coming soon, and the buzz was good.  We were encouraged by the network to do local screenings of the premiere.  This was our version.

There was a local apartment complex (Weaver Creek Apartments) that had a great pool, and they wanted to do a promotion to bring people to their open house.  So we created an event, where people can come hang out at their pool, and watch the first episode, a week before anybody else could.  It was catered by QDoba.  Free Food!  While we waited for it to get dark enough to project the video onto the outdoor screen, we played games and gave out prizes.

Good crowd.  Client Happy.  The event was a great success.  Here are a few pictures from the event.

Pool Screening

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Top Model Casting Call

Posted: August 9, 2017 in Events
Tags: , , ,

We did a Top Model Casting Call at a local shopping Mall.  When you do these types of events, you never know how the turn out will be.  In this case, it was overwhelming how many people showed up.  Almost our entire staff was there to handle the crowd.  We anticipated being wrapped up by 7pm.  We were done by 2am!

I was able to pull aside the Marketing Director for the Mall to do a little interview about what he thought about the event…

After the event was over, we spent the next week, editing all of the videos  and shipping everything out to the Producers of the show before the deadline.

We did this event a few times over the years.  This one was the largest turn out.  Nobody from this casting call actually made it on to the show.   Since the show premiered, there have only been 2 girls from New Mexico that made it onto Top Model.  One of them was on the show at the time this casting call was taking place.

I had the idea, for this event, back when the TV station I worked at was doing the annual summer movies-in-the-park events, called FREE FRIDAY FLIX.  I wanted to do something similar, but something that had more of a tie-in to the TV shows on our station.  We weren”t a “news station” and we weren’t a kid friendly station.  We were mostly watched for the weeknight comedies we had.  So instead of Movies-In-The-Park, I thought why not Comedians-In-The-Park?  We could have TV personalities emcee the event, and maybe even fly in a few “stars” from the comedies, to get people to come out and either “judge” an event, or if they had a stand-up background…do a comedy set.

In the beginning, I pictured this event tied to all of the stations in the group – in multiple markets.  For example, if we were launching a show like “Rules of Engagement” on every station the company owned throughout the USA, I would suggest contacting Sony and seeing if David Spade was available to “help launch the show in syndication” on all of our stations.  He would travel from market to market and pull this off to help promotionally launch his show.  Ideally it would take place in June, when stars were usually still available, and not back in Production for the new season.

I finally was given permission to initiate the event at the Albuquerque duopoly only and see how it went.  I worked with a local Comedy Club and tied in their annual Southwest Comedy Laugh Off Event.  The first stage of it was to recruit local comedians to be in the competition…

Over the summer we had a smaller event at the comedy club each week to audition local comedians for the competition at our main event.  The comedy club benefited from this, and they helped us with booking the main act.

So now it was time to promote the actual event that was free to the public.  The night was hosted by Comedian/Weatherman Mitch English from our morning show THE DAILY BUZZ.  We negotiated all summer long to get some of the comedy stars from the show to come out, but ended up not having much luck.  Bad timing on waiting until the end of the summer instead of my recommended June date.  So we booked comedian Kevin Meaney as the headliner.  We partnered with a local radio station, and had Kevin make an appearance on their morning show to promote the event.  Their morning show team were the judges for naming the best local comic.  We set up booths for our clients, and gave away goodie bags to all who attended.

As we mention in the promo, we took some of the winner’s material and cut it into 5 short form segments that aired during one of our designated comedies.

Overall, it was well attended, well reviewed, and ran pretty smoothly.  We did involve our clients and made some money off it too.  Plus we completed a community event for the year.  The downside…it was a little on the expensive side.  But I think that was because we were dealing with the city of Albuquerque and all of their fees and restrictions.   It really boosted the cost up.   I think having it at an outdoor private venue might have reduced those costs a lot.  The other factor that might make it cheaper in the future was if we did the multi-market thing, and reduced the costs of the talent and other things by making a group deal instead of only one market.

Shortly after this event was over, we found out our group was going to be sold off.  So unfortunately, we never were able to make he multi-market event happen.  Maybe with the next group I work for?

This annual summer event is something I did in two of the markets I worked in. It’s basically a movie-in-the-park event. Put up a screen in a public area, show a family friendly movie, and invite the public to come for free.

Here is a sample promo we ran on the air at one of the more recent events…

This event can be very sales friendly, and counts as a community event. There is good and bad with it, and you can make it big or small too.

The first few years I did this event in Dayton, Ohio, it was huge! Most of the time and energy went into the hours leading up to the movie. We would start the event around 6pm – and the movie wouldn’t start until it was dark (between 8 & 9pm). So before the movie started, we invited our clients to set up booth on each side of the screen. They had to be doing something fun, and not just passing out pamphlets. And we encouraged all clients to do something for FREE. Hence the name. Everything is supposed to be free. Pepsi sponsored it and donated 100 cans of Pepsi, etc. Our station had a booth, and we would give out station related prizes.

Every half an hour leading up to the movie, we would do an event. The common events were: Coloring Contest with prizes, a Piñata, Water Balloon Toss, Sling shot T-Shirts into the crowd, etc.

We would also invite other members of the community (and clients) to do demonstrations. The local High School cheerleaders were all doing their summer cheer camps, and we invited them to do a show in front of the screen. Along the same lines, we invited the Band Camp members out to do a demonstration. On the client side, a local Karate school did a demonstration.

The attendance could be anywhere between 100 – 2,500. It depended on weather, the movie title, and the location.

In Ohio, we worked with the local Parks Department, who paid us to make sure it was at one of their entities. It was a different story in Albuquerque. The Parks Department let us do it, but they had so many rules, restrictions, costs and meeting after meeting to go to, that it prevented us from using their parks eventually. We had to do the event on private property or go to the neighboring towns to use their parks.

In later years, I did mini-versions of this event, and didn’t make the pre-movie event so big. Or offered it up as added value to other client events. We did a scary movie outside of a Haunted Farm as people waited in line for the Haunted House. We showed a sci-fi movie at the Roswell UFO Festival, etc.

Every time we did this event, we would show previews of our new fall shows, and sponsor commercials.

I obviously didn’t come up with this event.  I sort of inherited it as a station event when I came to work for ACME.  But I did add my own events to it.  My only problems with the event, is that if we did it big, it took A LOT of your time.  A LOT.  I felt like I was an event planning company instead of working at a TV station.  And the whole staff had to work it.  It just seemed like we took a month off of TV to do something random.  It was successful, but it was an energy zapper.  The other negative note about it…I didn’t see the connection to the TV station.  Both markets I did this in, we had TV shows that were more adult comedies, instead of a family friendly movie station.  To me, it would be compared to an ice cream social event for kids…put on by Hooters.

Plus, anybody could basically do a movie-in-the-park event.  And that was one of the growing problems too, as the equipment became more affordable and more available to do.  More and more companies were doing it on their own.

I did attempt to do a variation of this event that had more of a connection to our TV stations.  That event was Free Friday Funnies.  Click the link to see how that went.

In Albuquerque, we had a MyNetworkTV affiliate called My50-TV.  Half of the line-up was either 2nd run/off-network programming (Reno 911, Family Guy, King of Queens, etc).  The other half was conflict talk (Springer, Maury, etc) or Court Shows.  Nothing local about this station.  I wanted to create a local spokesperson for the station to host the lineup.

It’s not exactly a new idea.  But the concept I had in mind Tool Time Girlcame from 2 places.  The first was Tampa.  There was a local TV station there, back when Home Improvement was the hot show in syndication, that held auditions for a local Tool Time Girl.  She would be in parades and do local appearances (a local face for the station).

MTV VJ The second place was MTV.  If you remember the early days of MTV (back when they played music), you remember the VJs.  You probably still remember their names.  I wanted to recreate the VJ at the local level.  But instead of seeing the VJs pop up inbetween music videos, you would see them during the commercial breaks of TV shows.

I was also picturing it kind of like a TV version of what radio does.  A local radio station, plays non-local music, but they make the station local by their commentary in between the songs.  You probably know the personalities from some of your local stations right?  These “DJs” give local updates (news, weather traffic) on the radio, but in a fun way.  Why couldn’t that be recreated on TV?

Other local stations started recently doing something similar to this idea.  Fox stations call it “The Face of Fox”.  CW stations call it the “CW star”.  I liked VJ.

Belt Buckle-notice panelSince the station skewed towards the Men 18-49 demo, we leaned towards having a female VJ.  We wanted her to host the 6pm – 10pm block, and had to make room (from promotions & sales inventory) for these segments to air.  We had some discussions on what the VJ would wear.  In most cases, we told the VJ to pick her own clothes, but they had to have the colors of the logo (blue, grey, black or white).  Had a few clothing sponsors tied to it as well.  But the one thing she had to wear  at all times was a My50-TV Belt Buckle.   And the VJ gig would only last 1 year.  The goal was to be humorous & entertaining to be an alternate choice to the traditional News channels.

Here are some highlights from the entire year of one of our VJs…

As I mentioned earlier, I pictured these as radio style.  When we started off with the concept, almost all of the segments were done in the studio and done in front of a green screen (except for client related segments – details below).  The VJ would talk about the show they were watching, give trivia, tease what was coming next, give away tickets to movie screenings, crack jokes, etc.  Later we also introduced the VJ Booth set.  This was a radio style booth, where VJs would take calls, and give away prizes.

Later we started going out of the studio once or twice a week.  These usually took more time to shoot & edit.  But they usually were more entertaining.  A couple of the reoccurring bits, were called “VJ Walking” & “Dare the VJ”.

But we also did interviews with visiting celebs or via satellite

This one was with Jerry Springer to help promote Baggage.

Dan Akyroyd came to town to sell his Crystal Skull Vodka.

The Soup Nazi Seinfeld promotional tour.

Or sometimes, we would just go out and learn something new, like this video where the VJ learned about intense frisbee games that were going on in town…

The VJ also hosted the lineup from some of our client locations.  The sales team would approach clients, and sell them a VJ package that would include the VJ coming by their location and shooting several segments where she would interview them, do a demonstration, taste some food, etc.  Here are a few examples..

VJ visits a local hamburger place

VJ talks to Pizza Hut about their local charity initiative

VJ talks with local police recruiter

VJ goes to a new nightclub in town

And of course, we would use the VJ to promote our shows with long form segments.  In this first sample, we wanted to help launch, Punk’d into syndication on our station, so we Punk’d our VJ.

One of our VJs wanted to spoof the annoying “Friday Friday” song that went viral that year and did a “Weekdays Weekdays” version promoting our conflict talk show block.

Or just ambushing people on the street and giving out prizes if they knew our lineup.

Each year we evolved it a bit more, and were doing other promotion events that people would show up for (ski weekends, sporting event meet ups, etc.)  In the most recent year, we went a little more edgy and the VJ we used was modeled after some of the things we saw on the cable channel G4, and had her do things a “shock jock” might do.  It fit right in with the programming, and I think it worked, on getting some attention.   Here was her intro promo.

And her year in review…

In fact, people voted for her (Amber Pohl) as their favorite TV personality in the Best of the City poll that Albuquerque the Magazine, does each year.  She came in 3rd place, beating out all personalities on the local CBS & Fox affiliates.
Best ofNot bad for the little underdog station with no local News.

I could see this format going in a few directions.  Everything was pre-taped.  But I think the in-studio segments could have been done live if we had all the right tools.  Like a radio station, I could see there being a VJ for every daypart.  Another one for the weekends.

Overall, I like this idea.  I think it we were doing something you don’t see much of on local TV…humor & fun.   I’d actually like to see more stations go this route.


Sony announced they were going to do a contest.  Stations that carried the show Seinfeld, were requested to send in a Seinfeld promo they had created.  The stations with the best promos would be rewarded with a visit from actor Larry Thomas (played “The Soup Nazi” on Seinfeld) on a country-wide promotional tour in the Seinfeld Food Truck.

I submitted a campaign we had done called The Laugh Pack, which promoted Friends & Seinfeld as a block.  At the Promax Station Summit, they announced that my station, as well as a couple others (Chicago, Boston, Philadelphia) would be recipients of the prize.

We decided to turn this market visit into a station event.  I involved the Sales Department, and we did 2 parts to his visit.  1) a VIP station visit, and 2) a visit at a client location (in this case it was Mercedes Benz of Albuquerque)

We teased that he was coming with some fun Facebook announcements, and an on-air promo.  Then once we had the client location locked down, we put another promo on the air to show where people should go.

I also took advantage of Facebook ads ability to target specific people and placed to ads that were aimed specifically for people in our market that listed Seinfeld as a favorite TV show.

Then we crossed our fingers and hoped for a good turn out.

We set up a make-shift “outdoor cafe” in front of our station, first thing in the morning.  And we invited some of our clients that we knew were Seinfeld fans.  We hired a chef to make some breakfast for the visitors, and Larry Thomas posed for pictures with all of our VIP guests and staff.  We did a short interview with our station VJ, then he headed out to the client location.


When we arrived at the event, there were already about 1000 people in line to meet him.  Larry was only scheduled to do a 2-hour visit.  We cut off the line about an hour into it, and he stayed for 2.5 hours until all of those people were seen, but we were constantly turning people away that were arriving after the cut off.  We estimate about 2,500 – 3,000 came to our client’s location.  They were very happy with the turn out.

Over all, this was a fun, promotional event.  I’d love to do more of these.