ABC pulls hue turn for fall

Net to overhaul look, hype 'Happy Hour'

Color them more than yellow at ABC.

Five years after the network introduced its stylish, yellow-hued “TV Is Good” campaign, the Alphabet network has opted to completely overhaul its look. Gone are the network’s on-air use of black-and-white photos of network talent and its exclusive reliance on yellow as a background color.

Come fall, yellow will be joined by green, red and blue tints alongside full-color live-action shots of the net’s stars.

“The network will look very different from what it’s looked like in the past four years,” said ABC senior VP of marketing Mike Benson. “Yellow is still very important, but we’re America’s broadcast company, and America is made up of more than just one color.”

ABC had spent years building up its brand equity as the yellow network — even adopting the hit Coldplay song “Yellow” as its unofficial anthem. The decision to mute its reliance on the look surprised some rival network marketers, but Benson pointed out that some of the old campaign, including the net’s four-note chime, remains.

“We’re doing the same thing to our network that Volkswagen did with the Beetle,” he said. “They took something that everyone recognized and made it fresh again.”

Full circle

Under guidance from Leo Burnett USA — which ABC contracted with earlier this year rather than Chiat/Day, the agency that launched the irreverent “TV is Good” movement — Alphabet web will also incorporate more circles in its designs.

Inspired by ABC’s round logo, Benson said Leo Burnett chief creative officer Cheryl Berman came up with the mantra of “owning the circle.” Spots will emphasize the circular nature of the ABC logo, along with the letters ‘a,’ ‘b’ and ‘c.’

“The ABC logo is made up of circles, so why not take advantage of that?” Benson said. “What it comes down to is a sense of community or togetherness. It’s important to remind the audience what ABC is all about, but do it in a fresh and contemporary way.”

Benson said viewers will start to see pieces of the image makeover over the next week, leading up to a complete overhaul on Sept. 23, the first night of the new season. The first spots to sport the new look will emphasize the network’s “Happy Hour”-branded 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. weeknight block.

‘Happy’ talk

As one of the cornerstones of ABC’s fall push, “Happy Hour” will be promoted with a variety of slogans, including, “The only thing we’re serving is a good time” and “Finally a 60 minutes you can laugh at.”

ABC will rely on its Disney siblings to help get the word out this summer, promoting both the network’s new shows and its “Happy Hour” block on cable nets, Disney stores and theme parks.

“It will go a long way to raise the awareness of shows,” Benson said.

The net is also spending a lot of money on attracting minority audiences, including black and bilingual Latino and Asian-targeted radio and print outlets.

“I think we’re being more aggressive in that area than any other network,” Benson said.

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