'Sunday Night Football' to push Monday's launch

NBC is plotting one last marketing blitz this weekend to bolster Monday’s launch of “The Jay Leno Show.”

The final peg of the Peacock’s “Jay Leno” campaign will lead up to a big on-air presence during NBC’s “Sunday Night Football” faceoff between the Green Bay Packers and Chicago Bears.

Throughout Green Bay’s Lambeau Field, the Peacock plans to strategically place fans wearing football jerseys (in Packers colors) with Leno’s name and either a “10” — his new timeslot in most of the country — or a “9” — his slot in the Central time zone. Others will be in the crowd with painted faces promoting the show.

“Sunday Night Football” announcers Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels will mention Leno throughout the game and frequently cut to either promos or those Leno-clothed fans in the stands. Also at Lambeau Field, spots featuring Leno dressed in a half-Packers/half-Bears jersey will run throughout the stadium.

“(NBC Sports topper) Dick Ebersol has been enormously cooperative,” said NBC U chief marketing officer John Miller, who said the exec also carved out time during halftime at Thursday night’s NFL kickoff game in order to promote Leno.

“These are the small things I enjoy doing, the Barnum and Bailey activity,” he said. “We think the football game, coming the day before the show begins, will help tremendously. It’s opening week (for the NFL) and should provide a big number.”

As part of the final marketing push, NBC will also release an extended “director’s cut” of a short starring Leno and “Saturday Night Live’s” Fred Armisen that ran in theaters over the summer.

“You’ll see it featured on NBC.com, and also virally through the Web and through social media platforms,” said NBC Entertainment marketing topper Adam Stotsky.

The Peacock is also relying heavily on its owned stations and affiliates to play up the launch on their newscasts. This week the marketing team has sent out daily entertainment pieces about the show via NBC’s affiliate news-sharing service; normally, around 50-60 affils pick up some pieces, but Miller said about 125 stations aired the packages this week.

Miller said the “Jay Leno” launch actually isn’t the most the network has ever spent on a marketing campaign, but he said he believed the show has garnered more total marketing impressions than anything else NBC has done. Stotsky put the value of both paid and unpaid media for the show in the eight figures.

The execs said their tracking reports have put awareness of Leno’s move to 10 p.m. at 72%-80% of the TV audience all summer long; that number is now closer to 82%. Meanwhile, the percentage of viewers who have expressed an “intent to view” the show is around 20%.

“Does it mean a 20 rating? I hope, but it does mean a significant amount of the audience is looking forward to it,” Miller said. “It looks pretty good in our competitive (tracking).”

Insiders said the Peacock is hoping to launch with at least what Leno’s final “Tonight Show” delivered in May in adults 18-49, which was a 3.4 rating/14 share and 11.9 million viewers.

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