The Following Network: Fox

Date: February 25, 2013

Viewers: 8.58

Key to Success: Pushing the broadcast envelope

One of the first images viewers saw of Fox’s mid-season hit, “The Following,” was of a promo featuring a woman, clad in nothing but ink, drawing an ice pick to her gut. Suffice it to say, it caused a bit of talk in the television community about what was coming next. Many felt the network was taking quite a risk with its violent crime drama, centered on a cult-head serial killer whose attacks are inspired by Edgar Allan Poe. How does a broadcaster take such a sinister subject (and its gritty violence) that’s traditionally been relegated to cable and turn it into a mainstream marketing campaign for the broad Fox primetime audience? It’s a fine line, but Fox figured out how to walk it.

“There’s definitely an appetite out there for edgy shows that really push the limit,” said Laurel Bernard, EVP of marketing at Fox Broadcasting Company. “We feel like we’ve given that title over to cable, and we wanted to make sure that people realize that we can put a show on the air on Fox, on broadcast, that was just as intriguing and just as engaging.”

After a mini campaign titled “We Are The Following,” an early-on Facebook effort last fall, Fox dove head first into marketing the show to its masses. According to Bernard, Fox “left no stone unturned on this campaign,” with everything from Comic-Con screenings and a premiere event with the New York Public Library to branded photo booths, street teams in body suits and radio promotions with the band, The Killers (because how could you pass that one up?). Taking advantage of its News Corp. synergy, Fox also ramped up its efforts in the weeks leading up to the premiere by spreading promos across a massive system of affiliates, cable nets and big network nights, ensuring that “The Following” could

be seen by “American Horror Story” and NFL fans alike.

In the end, viewers did not pass up their opportunity to see Kevin Bacon chase down a literary-themed murderer. The network was able to use the edginess of the show to its advantage, while simultaneously appealing to the mass audiences of crime procedural lovers. In response, Fox threw a loud “I told you so” at its doubters when the Kevin Bacon-led drama lured more than 10 million viewers for its premiere and beat out ratings for any midseason series premiere on a broadcast network.


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