Network: The CW Date: May 13, 2011 Viewers: 3.0 Key to Success: Believing in heroes Many signs built up to this transformation: the suit, the glasses, the phone booth. After 10 seasons of watching a boy become Superman, viewers had a lot riding on the series finale of Smallville. And when you have a formidable fan base like this one, there is a lot to think about. The marketing for the series finale of Smallville was not about the question of “will he or won’t he become Superman?” (We all know how this ends.) It hinged on the emotional roller coaster ride Clark Kent takes to get to this final moment. It’s about believing in heroes, according to Chris Donovan, SVP of creative on-air and online at The CW, which is why the on-air campaign was build around the tagline, “Believe.” “It’s like Rudy. You know Notre Dame is going to win, but you want to be there to see how it happens,” said Donovan. “That emotional journey and how you feel at the end is what ties it all together. It’s him growing up and becoming a man before they put the ‘Super’ in front of the ‘man.’” So the challenge became trying to pull in The CW’s regular viewers along with the already devoted comic book fans by using visual iconic references to the Superman franchise, like recognizable sound bites and the “S” shield. Promos incorporated Superman references familiar to the franchise’s fans, but also aimed at intriguing to new viewers, like the spot “Letters,” which projected scenes onto the letters of the Smallville logo in an homage to the holographic images projected on the crystals in the Fortress of Solitude. In the spot “Galaxy Tease,” the sun came up behind Earth to reference Superman (known as “the light”). These spots worked so well, according to Donovan, that they were parsed and slowed down by dedicated fans who created new YouTube spots guessing and speculating what each frame meant. But in the end, The CW hoped people would tune in to see their favorite superhero face his fate and, once again, believe in heroes. “You get to participate in seeing this storied and legendary moment of Superman’s nativity on TV, which nobody’s really done,” said Donovan. “I was way more interested in that iconography and the emotion behind that iconography at the end of the day. It’s still about a boy becoming a man.”


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