In a first for NBC and a social networking Web site, the Peacock has pacted with MySpace.com to stream an episode of midseason laffer “The Office” tonight– nearly two weeks before the seg airs on the network.
Webscast, a one-time-only event skedded for 8 p.m. EST Wednesday, is part of NBC’s aggressive launch campaign on behalf of the skein. Net is focusing its attention on what it calls “influencers” — upscale auds it thinks might be interested in “The Office” and predisposed toward recommending the show to friends.
As part of the launch, net has also mailed out 800 DVD screeners featuring an episode of “The Office” to ad agency creative directors and corporate CEOs under the age of 40.
TV crix have already been sent a disturbing plastic container filled with gelatin with an “Office” coffee mug embedded. Stunt was inspired by a scene in the show.
And the morning after the skein’s pilot airs on March 24, NBC will send out street teams to office buildings in seven major cities.
Corporate-looking thesps wearing business attire will stand outside the buildings wearing sandwich boards that read “My Boss Sucks” on one side, and “The Office — Tuesdays at 9:30 on NBC” on the other side. Thesps will also hand out “business cards” promoting the show’s regular timeslot bow.
Vivi Zigler, NBC’s senior VP of marketing and advertising services, said the Webcast and other promos “are part of a strategy to get the show sampled by people we think are mentally akin to the tone and attitude of the show itself. The MySpace (Webcast) is about showing them the wares. Hopefully they’ll get hooked and come back.”
Rather than running the pilot online, NBC execs chose to air the skein’s second episode, dubbed “Diversity Day.” The thinking: While the pilot for “The Office” is a virtual clone of the first episode of the classic U.K. skein, latter seg better shows off what makes the NBC “Office” different and distinct from its Blighty cousin.
MySpace.com, a favorite site for teens and young adults who post profiles and join social groups, including a new one being set up for “The Office,” is believed to be trading access to its users in return for the exclusive content and on-air promotions on the Peacock.
“Word spreads more organically on a site like ours, as opposed to traditional in-your-face advertising,” noted MySpace CEO Chris DeWolfe.
After the Webcast, MySpace will continue to offer a shortened 13-minute “Webisode” of the “Diversity Day” episode through the end of March. Peacock isn’t making the full episode available for on-demand viewing because “this needs to be for promotional purposes, not to take the place of all the people we want to watch us on TV,” Zigler said.
NBC has aired extended scenes and snippets from its shows online, but the deal for “The Office” reps the Peacock’s first foray into premiering a skein on the Net.
The WB sneaked full episodes of “Jack & Bobby” and “The Mountain” online earlier this season, while Showtime pacted with Yahoo for a day-and-date window for “Fat Actress.”