×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

11 Top U.S. Magazines To Hawk NBC’s ‘Blacklist’ On Fake Covers

To draw attention to the second-season launch of its popular drama, “The Blacklist,” NBC has convinced no fewer than 11 of the nation’s best-known magazines to put the series’ star, James Spader, on their covers. Well, sort of.

Starting this week, magazines like Playboy and Wired will burnish back covers that appear to make Raymond “Red” Reddington, the anti-hero at the center of “The Blacklist,” the subject. In days to come, New York, GQ, People, The New Yorker, Time, Entertainment Weekly, Us Weekly, Vanity Fair and Rolling Stone will all feature covers starring the character – all as part of an ad campaign from NBC to drum up attention for the show’s new season, which starts September 22. The covers, each customized for the magazine on which they appear, are ads; the real covers will be hidden underneath. Only Playboy will put the ad in its front; the rest will affix them to the back.

NBC has good reason to promote “The Blacklist.” The show, in which Spader’s Reddington character helps a rookie FBI profiler find criminals, was one of the few breakout hits of last season, and NBC will attempt to move it after a run on Monday nights in 2014, where it enjoys a healthy audience lead-in from “The Voice,” to – in 2015 – Thursdays, where the Peacock has suffered a weakened slate in recent seasons.

In years past, consumer magazines and other print publishers might have avoided such stuff. While giving advertisers an overlay cover to place over the real one is a practice that has long been embraced by trade publications, it has been viewed more warily by their consumer-audience counterparts.

Indeed, in 2003, the American Society of Magazine Editors, an industry group that has long tried to maintain a separation between editorial and advertising, sent a warning letter to Wenner Media, the publisher of Rolling Stone, for allowing Chrysler’s Jeep to attach a fold-out ad featuring Angelina Jolie to a magazine cover that also sported the actress. In 2009, the Los Angeles Times raised eyebrows by running a front-page ad for NBC’s “Southland” that resembled a news article. The top of the column labeled the piece as an advertisement and NBC’s Peacock logo ran alongside the space.

Such practices may not cause as much furor in 2014, when more publishers are embracing so-called “native” advertising, or ads for online view that are made to look much like the publication that sports them. By allowing such stuff in digital realms, the media outlets have less support for keeping their print products sacrosanct. As TV networks allow their advertisers to insert products into TV shows and mentions of them into scripts – and enlist actors and actresses from the programs to help hype the goods in commercial breaks – print outlets face increased pressure to provide similar service. In 2013, ad pages among consumer magazines fell about 4%, according to the Publishers Information Bureau, after an 8% drop in 2012.

As part of the pact, NBC will get stylized promotion in some of the country’s best-read periodicals. A cover attached to Wired will feature Spader’s character framed by red, yellow and green, along with the headline ‘Code Red!: How One Man Hacked His Way Into The Zeitgeist,” with tune-in information also provided. A cover placed on Playboy, draped in red, comes with the headline, “Top FBI Agents Bare All.” A cover affixed to an issue of Time will pronounce the Reddington character “Hit Man of The Year.” On most of the covers, the magazine’s name is changed to “Blacklist,” and many identify the covers as advertisements.

NBC said several of its media partners will help promote the show on their digital sites and via social media.

The network intends to use other avenues to call attention to the show. In New York City, for example, ads for “Blacklist” will be put up on buses and subways as well as on Times Square billboards. In Los Angeles, NBC will use “high profile wallscapes” on Sunset Boulevard, the 101 Freeway and the intersection of Highland and Franklin Avenues. NBC will also run a TV promo set to the AC/DC song “Back in Black” that will also appear on cable networks owned by parent NBCUniversal.

Already, ad buyers seem enthused about prospects for “The Blacklist” in the 2014-2015 season. The drama is expected to be one of the top generators of so-called “C3” ratings, or views within three days of the commercials that accompany the show. The measure is the basis of how advertisers pay for TV ads. When the show moves to Thursday in 2015, ad buyers expect the program to lose only a smidge of its “C3” audience. NBC will air a new episode of “The Blacklist” after its 2015 broadcast of Super Bowl XLIX to draw attention to the show’s new roost in the schedule.

More TV

  • Lily Tomlin SAG Lifetime Acheivement Award

    TV News Roundup: Netflix's 'Laugh-In' 50th Anniversary Tribute Sets Premiere Date

    In today’s TV News roundup, Netflix sets the premiere date for its 50th anniversary special of “Laugh-In.” DATES “Laugh-In: The Stars Celebrate,” the 50th anniversary tribute to the original series by Dan Rowan and Dick Martin, will premiere on Netflix on May 14. The special, which was taped at the Dolby Theater in Hollywood, pays [...]

  • Texas Tech's Norense Odiase (32) shoots

    Live+3 Ratings for Week of April 8: NCAA Championship Game Dunks on Competition

    The final of the 2019 NCAA basketball tournament, in which Virginia triumphed over a spirited Texas Tech team, unsurprisingly finished way out in front in the Live+3 ratings for the week of April 8. Although the sports broadcast’s scripted competition made some gains, its 5.4 ratings still more than doubled that of “Grey’s Anatomy” in [...]

  • Mueller Report Release Draws 11 Million

    Mueller Report Release Draws 11 Million Total Viewers Across TV News

    Coverage of the release of special counsel Robert Mueller’s report into whether President Donald Trump committed obstruction of justice unsurprisingly caused a ratings bump across TV news yesterday. In terms of overall viewership, around 11 million people tuned in to see Attorney General William Barr’s news conference regarding the report’s release, and the news coverage surrounding it. According [...]

  • Neilsons Measurment Problems TV Digital

    WarnerMedia Pulls Out of Audience-Targeting Alliance Open A.P.

    WarnerMedia is going its own way when it comes to helping advertisers find specific groups of TV-watchers. The company, a founding member of the audience-targeting media alliance known as Open A.P., said Friday it would withdraw from the group, citing its desire to pursue its own strategy under owner AT&T. AT&T purchased Time Warner in [...]

  • BLESS THIS MESS - "The Chicken

    Listen: Lake Bell, Dax Shepard on Returning to Broadcast TV With 'Bless This Mess'

    Welcome to “TV Take,” Variety’s television podcast. In this week’s installment, Variety’s executive editor of TV, Daniel Holloway, chats with Lake Bell and Dax Shepard, stars of ABC’s “Bless This Mess,” which debuted on Monday. The show centers around a newly married couple, played by Bell and Shepard, who decide to ditch their shoebox New York City [...]

  • superstore renewed season 3

    'Superstore' Showrunner Justin Spitzer Steps Down as He, Gabe Miller, Jonathan Green Renew Overall Deals at UTV

    “Superstore” executive producers Justin Spitzer, Gabe Miller and Jonathan Green have all renewed their overall deals with Universal Television. In addition, Miller and Green will take over showrunner duties on “Superstore” while Spitzer — who also created the series — will shift to develop new projects for the studio beginning with the 2019-2020 season. “I [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content