ABC shows merge for ad campaign

Network's characters join forces for PR effort

Somewhere in Pacific Palisades, characters from ABC series such as “Lost” and “Desperate Housewives” eat, sleep and play together in the same house.

At least, that’s the conceit of the Alphabet net’s latest marketing campaign, dubbed the “ABC House.”

The tongue-in-cheek spots will feature ABC stars, but in character, mingling with each other under the presumption that they all live under one, big Alphabet roof.

In one spot, Susan of “Desperate Housewives” (Teri Hatcher) attempts to cook with “Lost’s” Jack (Matthew Fox). In another, “Brothers and Sisters” matriarch Nora (Sally Field) reads a bedtime story to talkshow host Jimmy Kimmel.

The campaign will be unveiled Tuesday during ABC’s upfront presentation in New York. About a dozen spots were put together; others featured include “Grey’s Anatomy’s” Patrick Dempsey, “Dancing With the Stars” host Tom Bergeron and the folks behind “Wipeout.”

“We want to create the idea of ABC as more of a place, reinforcing the idea that all of your favorite shows live in one spot,” said marketing exec VP Mike Benson. “So we took it literally, and actually have a house where all of our characters live.”

In a twist on the net’s “Start Here” slogan, the spots will all feature the line “Your favorite shows live here.”

In a way, the campaign is a throwback to the big, star-driven network marketing campaigns of the 1970s and 1980s. Those spots usually featured a network’s collection of stars interacting on a soundstage or on location.

“This is unique in that the new spots, they’re all in character,” said marketing co-exec VP Marla Provencio. “That’s what the audience relates to.”

ABC shot the spots in a Pacific Palisades rental over the course of four days a few weeks ago. Benson and Provencio said they’re now mulling the next stage of the campaign.

“I feel like this is an idea that has legs,” Benson said. “We’ve been looking for something that’s uniquely us and from an identity standpoint developed a look for the network that is unique.”

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