Inside Move: ABC gets pushy

Guerilla PR campaign promos 'Push' skein

ABC’s “Good Morning America” Wednesday served up a generous plug for a new Alphabet entertainment skein — unbeknownst to the producers of the ayemcast.

As weathercaster Tony Perkins was doing his usual stop-and-chats with members of the show’s streetside studio aud, he happened upon several members of the Push, Nev., hockey team. The rowdy players even foisted a Push Hockey T-shirt on Perkins.

The only problem? There is no such place as Push, Nev., — except in the minds of the writers of ABC new hybrid drama/reality skein “Push, Nevada,” from exec producers Sean Bailey and Ben Affleck.

The “hockey players” were actually actors hired by ADD, a marketing company hired by ABC to mount a guerilla PR campaign on behalf of the show. Apparently neither ADD nor ABC Entertainment, however, let anyone at ABC News in on the joke in advance.

“GMA” does have audience vetters who are supposed to weed out pranksters like those from ADD, but they didn’t catch on in time. And Perkins apparently didn’t realize that “Push, Nevada” was the name of a show bowing later this month on his own network — or if he did, he did a good job playing around with the stunt.

An ABC News rep declined comment. But not surprisingly, “GMA” execs contacted their West Coast peers when they realized what had happened, according to network insiders in Burbank. ABC Entertainment execs assured them such a stunt won’t happen again.

“This is a show that is very different and we are trying to market it in a different way,” an ABC spokesman said. Nonetheless, he added, “ADD didn’t take into account the kinds of questions that could arise by enacting this sort of strategy within the same company (airing the show).”

In other words, it might have been better had the “hockey players” fooled Al Roker over at NBC’s “Today.”

ADD isn’t limiting its unconventional techniques to “GMA,” however.

Daily Variety was faxed an official-looking press release this week from the “Push, Nevada, Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Bureau.” The release hyped the fact that local merchants were doing a booming business now that the ABC skein “Push, Nevada” was filming in Push.

What’s more, “hitchhikers” have been spotted around Los Angeles carrying signs reading “Push, Nevada or Bust.”

The ABC spokesman said to expect more off-kilter PR efforts on behalf of “Push.” “The idea behind any good marketing campaign is to spread the word about your show to as many people as possible as many ways as possible,” he said.

Even, apparently, if it’s one potential viewer at a time.

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