Ambush Promotion

Posted: September 6, 2012 in Contest Promos, Video Samples
Tags: , , , ,

Nielsen DiaryThis promotion worked great each time I did it, and you will see it in a variety of forms below.  The idea is simple.  Tell our viewers to memorize our line-up, because we are going to randomly start asking people what it is.  If you know it,  you get a prize.   Then we show the results on the air…including both the people that got it right, and the people that also got it wrong.  The spots were constantly updated to keep it fresh.

Not only was it fun to watch on the air (almost a mini-game show), but it truly did get people to memorize the lineup.   That of course helps, when you want people to watch.  But also helps when people fill out the Nielsen Diaries and need to remember what the line up was.

The first time I did it was at a station in Dayton, Ohio, and we had just changed up the comedy line-up and wanted people to remember it.  After we ran a “Call to Action” promo explaining the concept for a week, we hit the air with one spot that was filled with people who didn’t know the lineup, and our voice guy mocking them for not knowing…

Then we also had one spot where there was at least one winner.  Keep in mind, these are all real.  We didn’t plant any winners.

In Albuquerque, I tried it again.  This time, I changed up the prize.  DVD players weren’t considered a “nifty gift” anymore.  And the station was on channel 50.  So we went with $50 cash.  The promo below is a “call to action” promo asking our viewers to memorize our court show block…

And here is the “loser promo”…

And here is the “winner promo”…

I can’t stress enough that the promos need to be refreshed.   Just block off a time once a week for the crew to go out and do it.  Here are some tips.  Do it at lunch time.  That’s when people are more relaxed and willing to participate.  Or if there is a chance to do it at a Festival or Fair, people are really willing to be on.  Malls are good (but get permission first).   University Campuses and parks are also good.   We also found out that people are much more willing to respond to a female approaching them with the microphone.

Later on in both Albuquerque & Springfield, I used one of the station’s on-air personalities to start doing it. Here is one of the call to action promos…


Here are a few examples on how it worked with the on-air personality:





Later we did a funny set with Jerry Springer, who was in town hosting a live version of “The Price is Right” for a week, and he helped us Ambush the staff of the show:



The other thing to note, it always started off slow and it was hard to find people who would get it right…until about the 3rd or fourth week.  Then people saw our crew drive up and park, and the viewers would start ambushing our crew, telling them they had the lineup memorized and they wanted their $50, they were ready to go…even when we were shooting something else.

After the Ambush had reached the stage of us finding too many people who already know the lineup and it was difficult to find people who didn’t (yeah, I know…what a bad problem, right?), then we switched the question up more often.  We targeted show premieres.  AND, we started opening up to our clients.  In this case, we sold the promotion to KFC…and tied it to the premiere of a show called Blue Collar TV.  The prize was of course changed to free food from KFC.

The client loved it.  They even let us ambush people at the drive-thru window.

I think these cut through the clutter, because of the way the on-air personality mocked people for not being prepared if they didn’t know the answer.  It was all done in fun and as you can see, the people did sign a release to appear on TV, so they weren’t scarred to badly.

Below is a set that involved a client.   In this case, there was no tie-in to a TV show, which I was iffy about.  But it was kind of our staple promotion and something the other stations couldn’t offer up as an added-value promotion to their clients.  We proposed this one to Papa John’s.  They were asking us for a promotion that would help people get the Papa John’s ap installed on their mobile devices…

Here were the losers…

This one had a winner…

Again, the client was happy with the results.  It made for fun TV that enhanced the viewing experience for our viewers.  So I liked it too and highly recommend it.

Obviously I wasn’t the first person to have a TV crew “ambush” people on the streets with questions or anything, but it’s still a fun idea.  I haven’t really seen anybody else do a local TV promotion like this.   But more recently I’ve seen some shows that are VERY similar to this exact concept.   Last year, a new e/i show premiered called On the Spot, where the host ambushes people on the street with questions everybody should know the answer to.  Also this past year, a guy who was doing his own funny ambushes on YouTube, got his own show on cable called Billy On The Street, who at times, also gives out prizes ($1) to people who know the answers.

It’s a fun idea.



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