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CBS, partners stir ‘Monkey’ business

Music-centered skein will tie into Geiger record release

Walk into a pub, concert, campus or record store in the next few weeks and expect to get bombarded with swag for CBS’ midseason pickup “Love Monkey.”

The music-centered skein, which follows the travails of a thirtysomething record exec, is giving CBS and producers Sony Pictures Television and Paramount Network TV the opportunity to use promo techniques more akin to those for a record release, in addition to traditional mass marketing.

“This gives us the opportunity to use our resources to speak to a whole new audience,” said CBS marketing prexy George Schweitzer of the skein, which premieres Tuesday.

CBS is collaborating closely with two divisions of Sony Corp. to drive promotion of the show: the Sony TV studio and record label Sony BMG Music Entertainment, which is providing marketing expertise and a roster of artists who will be cycled through the show in its first season.

Actor Tom Cavanaugh plays Tom, a fed-up music exec who leaves his day job to start his own label, True Vinyl Records. His first signing is Sony BMG (Columbia Records) artist Teddy Geiger, known on the show as Wayne.

Geiger’s first album release is scheduled for February; both Sony and CBS execs expect to use the show and Geiger’s promotional tour as a publicity engine for the show, in addition to in-store promotions at Virgin Mega Stores and Sony Style stores.

Much of the marketing plan for “Monkey” looks a lot like that of a record release, with T-shirts, concert-type posters, bar promotions and radio spots.

“When Teddy Geiger goes out on tour, he’ll promote the series; he may give out a promo DVD to the audiences in addition to a CD,” said Robert Oswaks, marketing exec VP of Sony Pictures Television. “We’re working with the music division to take the opportunities that exist in their world that cross with our television world and market to both audiences.”

While Geiger has a recurring role on the show, other Sony BMG artists will cycle through as Cavanaugh scouts bands for his fictional label, which will have a Web site with real information on the artists, Truevinylrecords.com.

CBS will attempt to marshal campus support through newly acquired CSTV, distributing T-shirts reading “Saving the World From Crappy Music, One Gig at a Time” at 25 colleges across the country.

The hourlong “Love Monkey” is a significant break from the crime procedurals, reality shows and comedies that make up the bulk of CBS’ sked and an early test of the marketing reach of the post-Viacom CBS.

The first music-focused skein in the Leslie Moonves era is seen at the net as an opportunity to bring new, younger viewers into the fold.

“It’s part of our new look. The net is getting younger, and this is a show that has appeal in many different groups,” Schweitzer said.

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