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NBC Launches Campaign to Reclaim Brand Ownership of Hit Comedies (EXCLUSIVE)

NBC is preparing a new salvo in the streaming-era TV branding wars. As audiences increasingly watch shows like “The Good Place” and “Superstore” on other platforms, the Peacock network has launched a new campaign to remind them that these are, first and foremost, NBC shows. And they’re even enlisting a real-life peacock to convey the message.

And yes, NBC’s renewed embrace of the peacock icon comes at an interesting time: Right when its new direct-to-consumer streaming service has adopted the name “Peacock.”

At NBC, the peacock is being utilized as part of the larger campaign, centered around the slogan “Comedy Starts Here,” which is meant to emphasize the fact that some of the most-watched half-hours on TV, from the present and recent past, first aired on NBC.

“Comedy Starts Here” is a bit of an extension of the recent conventional wisdom that many of the top shows on Netflix are NBC sitcoms, including “The Office,” “Friends,” “Parks and Recreation” and “The Good Place.” But there’s a younger generation that only knows those shows as Netflix comedies. That’s why the network aimed to come up with a way to better get across the notion of its comedy brand.

“We just have had this growing sense over the past couple of years that we were getting our comedy mojo back,” said NBC Entertainment marketing/digital president Len Fogge. “Especially in an era where our comedies go elsewhere, we came up with the line ‘comedy starts here.’ Because it does. The shows that are so popular on streaming services are NBC comedies… For people who know it we remind them and for people who don’t, we want to let them know this is an NBC show.”

CREDIT: NBC

Also, inspired by Marvel’s creative universe, NBC Entertainment co-chair Paul Telegdy said the campaign is also meant to conjure the idea of a holistic NBC comedy universe — one where “Cheers,” “The Office,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “Superstore” all share the same DNA. (That also includes new entries “Sunnyside” and “Perfect Harmony.”) For the most part, these are ensemble comedies, often set in a workplace but with identifiable characters that come together and interact as an ad hoc family.

“We’re proud that our characters and our created worlds are wholly original and incredibly long-lasting intellectual property assets,” said Telegdy, who noted that there’s even a merchandising component to them.

The slogan was first utilized in July at San Diego Comic-Con, where shows such as “The Good Place,” “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” and “Superstore” were all showcased. New outdoor advertising will feature memorable slogans from NBC sitcoms past and present. And it’s also being incorporated into promos and a new tongue-in-cheek series of spots where NBC stars including Andy Samberg, Amy Poehler and Ted Danson interact with their “boss” — an actual peacock.

CREDIT: NBC

“What’s great about the peacock [is], it’s just always there, it’s always present,” Fogge said of the icon, which was first introduced in 1956 to denote shows being broadcast in color. It wasn’t actually adopted as part of NBC’s logo until 1979, when the “NBC Proud as a Peacock” slogan began. “When we need to trot it out for different things, it’s there and we can. As we were concepting the comedy campaign, it felt so organic to do it.”

(Although it might be argued that the peacock may now be in a bit of a brand confusion stage — it’s now used as part of the Comcast corporate logo, in addition to NBC and the new “Peacock.” Clearly the company loves the animal.)

Previous slogans for NBC comedies include “We [Peacock] Comedy” and “Comedy Night Done Right.” The famed “Must See TV” slogan, now retired, also began in the early 1990s as a way to promote the network’s Thursday night sitcom lineup.

“‘Comedy Starts Here’ is the right expression for our brand today,” Fogge said.

It’s also the latest move by NBC to maintain some brand ownership of its shows as they travel down the long trail beyond the initial broadcast run. Last year, the network began running a five-second animated peacock that morphs into the words “NBC Presents” at the start of every program. It was an extra piece of branding to remind viewers that they were watching that show via NBC.

Telegdy said the “Comedy Starts Here” campaign is also meant to send a message to the creative community and even internally that there’s an awareness inside NBC that they’re “the steward of an incredible program-making legacy… The peacock comes with a sense of pride and a bit of a strut.”

The “Comedy Starts Here” campaign will run on-air on NBC and other networks, as well as digitally. Here’s a first look at a minute-long branding spot that will first run on Tuesday night during the “America’s Got Talent” finale:

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