'Dexter' vs. 'True Blood': The Battle of Two Killer Media Plans

The all-important upfront presentations, where the major broadcast and cable networks introduce next season's prime-time schedule and tease new shows for ad buyers, have been taking place all week in New York. We media buyers try to figure out how well each show is going to rate, considering factors such as the program's characters, the writing and the competing shows on rival networks' just-announced schedules. Too often however, buyers overlook another element that's just as important to ratings success: how a show is promoted.


Two shows whose marketing has stood out in recent years, however, don't even have commercial time for marketers and their agencies to buy: Showtime's "Dexter" and HBO's "True Blood."


Each show's promotion has been as edgy as its content. Both developed media programs that captured interest, created buzz and drove ratings for their premium cable networks. "Dexter's" premiere-season viral campaign let people create fake news reports naming a friend as the Ice Truck Killer's next victim. I thought last season's "True Blood" vampire-themed out-of-home campaign featuring real-life brands such as Geico, Gillette, Monster.com and Mini was ground-breaking.


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