Starting Monday, viewers of cable outlets like TLC, the Food Network and Discovery Channel may experience the strange sensation of hearing snippets of the theme song from the 1970s sitcom, “The Brady Bunch.”
On TLC, “Long Island Medium” star Theresa Caputo will appear sporting a ‘do that looks much like the one Florence Henderson’s Carol Brady wore in the earlier series. On Food Network, Duff and Valerie Bertinelli will coo over a porkchops-and-applesauce cake from the children in “Kids Baking Championship” that plays off an old “Brady” plotline. And on Travel Channel, “Kindred Spirits” hosts Amy Bruni and Adam Berry will discover a treasure chest filled with 1970s flotsam and jetsam.
The idea is to make viewers from across the Discovery Inc. pantheon of cable networks more aware of the new series, “A Very Brady Renovation.” The program, which debuts on Discovery’s HGTV Monday, September 9, shows the actors who played the kids in the original “Brady Bunch” cast joining with a bevy of HGTV home-improvement experts to transform the interior of the home that served as the exterior of the Brady house in the old series. “I think it’s going to be a huge hit for us,” says Kathleen Finch, chief lifestyle brands officer at Discovery.
But no one wants to leave that to chance.
To get the word out, many of the creative teams at individual Discovery cable outlets crafted specific promos that look like the programming one might expect to find on ID, Discovery Channel or elsewhere. The Food Network spot featuring Duff and Bertinelli uses a cake crafted at Duff’s own Charm City Cakes. Discovery Channel’s Josh Gates, host of “Expedition Unknown,” at first appears to be exploring uncharted territory in what would seem to be a typical promo for Discovery Channel. Within seconds, however, he’s wearing a curly-haired wig that makes him look like Greg Brady, the oldest son in the series who was played by Barry Williams. “I never wanted to take the wig off,” says Gates. “I’d kill for Greg Brady’s hair.”
Discovery has other promotional techniques in its arsenal. The company has placed an ad for the series featuring its famous Property Brothers on cable, broadcast and digital. And in August and September the company plans to run “Brady”-themed episodes of popular series such “Fast N’ Loud,” “Chopped,” “Worst Cooks in America,” The Kitchen” and “The Pioneer Woman” across Discovery Channel and Food Network that will feature appearances by some of the “Brady” actors.
The “Brady Renovation” represents a chance to get a wider swath of viewers to tune in HGTV, says Finch. “Our goal with this all along was to tap into the zeitgeist emerging around this show,” she says. “Let’s whip up the ID fan base into a frenzy about this show. Let the Food Network fan base get excited about it.”
Discovery has reason to want to draw attention to the show. Getting all the “Brady” actors to take part was a tough task. “I will admit it took some doing,” says Finch. “They get asked all the time, and they are used to saying, ‘No.'” Executives spoke to each of the six actors – Williams, Maureen McCormick, Christopher Knight, Eve Plumb, Mike Lookinland and Susan Olsen – individually, and even had invited some of them to dine in the Food Network kitchens. ” I think they say no for a variety of reasons, mostly because the ideas don’t sound like they are respectful of the idea of ‘The Brady Bunch’ the way they all want to realize it.”
Finch has made a sideline hustle at both Discovery and Scripps, the company it acquired in 2018, out of getting favorite TV actors to take part in home-renovation series. During her tenure, viewers have seen William Shatner of “Star Trek” fame, Mr. T from “The A-Team” and rap and video-star Vanilla Ice tackle home-improvement projects for various networks. “I think this will be pretty hard to top,” she says of her latest series.