Its debut into society was hardly that of fairytales. Only 13 episodes into its freshman season in 2007, the writers’ strike yanked “Gossip Girl” off the air, and even then it was clear that the most downloaded program on iTunes was hardly the talk of the town.
In spring 2008, that was all about to change. To relaunch the show after a three-month break, CW exec Rick Haskins positioned screen grabs of the stars in compromising positions on billboards everywhere, accompanied by just four capital letters: OMFG.
“It’s probably the best ad campaign I’ve ever seen in (how) it so reflects the tone of a show,” says co-creator Josh Schwartz. “If you saw that OMFG poster, and you saw Chuck and Blair making out in a limo or Nate and Serena at the bar, it’s kind of like, ‘That’s the show!’ Tongue in cheek, racy.”
Haskins, who was allowed full creative license for the relaunch, decided to embrace the new age that “Gossip Girl” represented and speak to the show’s targeted audience, who (as evident from the very first scene of the show) were inseparable from their technology and spoke a different language altogether.
“We’ve always said that we’re the only broadcast network that was born in the digital age, and I think ‘Gossip Girl’ personified that,” says Haskins. “Once the show got up and running, and people started realizing that it really uses the vernacular that everybody was using on their cellphones, we decided to roll out a midseason campaign to solidify that.”
The campaign received its desired reaction and as a result cemented the CW’s status as the OMFG network known for pushing the envelope. Similarly brash campaigns have followed, like “Gossip Girl” WTF (Watch This Fall) ads, the nearly nude “What are you looking at?” posters for “The Beautiful Life” and “Catch VD” (“Vampire Diaries,” that is) billboards.
“We don’t want to be provocative just for provocative’s sake — we actually want to be smart about it,” says Haskins.
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