One of the fun things for a TV fan years ago, was that in mid to late Summer each network would produce an elaborate promo featuring all their stars and showcasing their new shows. Basically it was a reminder that new shows and new episodes were coming soon. After all, in those days there were 3 networks, cable was a miniscule presence (especially for original programming) and the internet – what’s the internet? From May ’til September all you had were reruns. So these big campaigns were designed to remind viewers new shows were coming and get them excited for the upcoming season. They usually came with a new network slogan and a catchy jingle. They generally involved the stars of each network all coming together. For a big TV fan, like myself, they were the equivalent of TV porn. Some were so memorable I can still hear the jingles in my head. I remember big campaigns in my youth from NBC (“Be There”), ABC (“Come On Along”) and many others. I often wonder why nets don’t produce a contemporary version of this today as in this ever fragmented TV world, where there is so much more competition, it would help brand the network better.
I wanted to salute one year of campaigns. So I picked 1990 which seems far less dated than the ones from a decade earlier. Each network mostly has one thing in common: All the stars at some point appear to be singing along with the jingle/slogan.
FOX – “It’s On FOX”
The network was only 3 years old at this point but had enough “stars” to create a memorable promo. They had Bart, Keenan, Damon, and the Bundys. The Jingle is probably the least memorable of the 4, but not bad for a network in its infancy. The most clever thing is how the 20th Century FOX logo is interrupted by Bart Simpson. The guy singing sounds an awful like Chicago’s Bill Champlin. Some of the lyrics include “It’s on FOX – no one else does what we do”. True enough.
NBC -“The Place To Be”
Highlights include Bill Cosby, the networks biggest star, conducting the “fake” orchestra with one of the other big NBC stars at the time, Betty White, playing saxophone. Clever and accurate lyrics in the breakdown – “We shared good times together, You made us #1, but it’s just the beginning…”. Very catchy hook. Clever and in character use of David Letterman at the end.
CBS – “Get Ready”
The biggest hit on CBS at the time was Murphy Brown and this campaign was centered all around Candice Bergen’s Motown loving character. CBS got The Temptations to sing new lyrics to their hit and of course Candice/Murphy is getting down and singing along with them, as are other CBS stars.
ABC – “America’s Watching”
Probably my favorite because the jingle is really catchy, simple and the stars actually sing along with it (their voices, not lip synching). Looks like they just visited the set of each ABC show and had the stars read the lyrics off cue cards. Really fun and captures the “family” vibe each network and show tries hard to convey. Check out Frank Gifford’s spotlight in the middle. Neil Patrick Harris in his “Doogie” days is clearly already showing his versatility as he gets more appearances than anyone. This is the kind of template I would suggest networks use now to create a contemporary promo.