The CW rethinks the commercial
Some 30-second ads will be `mini shows'
By Suzanne C. Ryan, Boston Globe Staff July 18, 2006

When the CW network premieres on Sept. 20, some of its most interesting programming may not be its comedies or its dramas, but its commercials.

The new broadcast network, which was formed earlier this year when the UPN and WB networks merged, will be airing mostly long-running audience favorites such as ``7th Heaven" and ``Gilmore Girls." But in an effort to further engage its target audience of 18-34-year-olds, the CW is planning to air 30-second ``mini shows" that will take the place of some traditional commercials.

In these multiple-act mini-shows, called ``content wraps," viewers will follow a character as, for example, she prepares to go on a blind date. In the second act of the mini-show, which will be shown later during the program, viewers will meet her date. In the third act, viewers will tag along on the date. Later, the CW website will reveal whether or not the couple connected for a second meeting.

Embedded in the mini-stories may be products from the advertiser. Or, in some cases, the CW may display an advertiser's name across the bottom of the screen during the content wraps.

``Our audience has grown up with television and new media. We are giving them new ways to get involved," said Dawn Ostroff, the CW's president of entertainment, during a press conference yesterday at the Television Critics Association summer conference here. ``This is an experiment. We heard from the advertising community that we needed to reinvent the wheel. There had to be a different way to communicate to [viewers]."

The CW did not show clips of any of the mini shows.

In an era when viewers can skip commercials entirely with the help of digital recording devices such as TiVo, mini-shows could be an innovative way to keep viewers tuned in. But audiences won't stick around for the ads if the main program isn't interesting. The CW will debut only two new shows this fall: ``Runaway," starring Donnie Wahlberg, is about an innocent family on the run after the father is framed for murder. ``The Game" is about the drama that surrounds the girlfriends and wives of football players.

Most of the CW's schedule is a combination of the most popular shows from the WB and UPN, such as ``America's Next Top Model" and ``Smallville."
Ostroff doesn't see a problem with a schedule full of existing shows . ``For our first season, we've laid a strong foundation of proven performers," she said. ``The fans are so passionate, I think they will be happy to see [those shows] return. . . . Ultimately, I think we will wind up with more viewers than either [UPN or the WB]."

Ostroff said many of the shows that have been around for several seasons will have unexpected story arcs, including ``7th Heaven," which was canceled earlier this year after 10 seasons, and then resurrected. The father in the series, Stephen Collins, ``is going to have a life-threatening heart ailment," she said.

In Boston, WLVI-TV (Channel 56) will be the new CW. On Sept. 17 and 18, the WB and UPN, respectively, are set to go off the air. On Sept. 19, viewers will find repeats on those channels and a premiere special that will introduce the new network.

``America's Next Top Model" will launch the network on Sept. 20 at 8 p.m. with a two-hour premiere. The other series will follow later in a staggered roll-out.


  • I am officially intrigued. Reminds me of the old Folger's commercials and I loved those.

    By Blogger Rae, at 7/18/2006 06:32:00 PM  

  • This morning I saw a piece on "viral advertising" and it mentioned Folgers. Funny. Apparently there are a good number of Folgers ads on youtube now.

    By Blogger duckyxdale, at 7/19/2006 08:04:00 AM  

  • A Canadian network did this once or twice during Gilmore Girls... it was basically like a cheap makeover show cut into 1-minute segments, but relatively tolerable in terms of product placement.

    It was dull.

    (But what do I care? I channel-surf during commercials.)

    By Anonymous TheNextKristin, at 7/20/2006 01:05:00 PM  

  • Yeah, I havent watched a commercial in years. Who's got time for commercials when there is 10 hours of TV a night to be had? Hello!

    By Blogger duckyxdale, at 7/20/2006 03:05:00 PM  

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