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Monday, March 05, 2007

Pharma Marketing Sitcoms as Brand Extensions

ABC said Friday it had ordered a pilot for a comedy, tentatively titled "Cavemen," that features the characters used in a series of ads by Geico, the insurance company.

You know the ads: "So simple a caveman can do it."

"We sell car insurance; we don't make TV shows," says Ted Ward, Geico's vice president of marketing. He is obviously happy, however, to be given the opportunity to extend the brand: "We are excited to have an opportunity to do brand extension." The advertising copywriter who helped create the cavemen ads is writing the pilot.(See "Why Advertising's Cavemen Are Going Totally Hollyrock").

Recently, we learned that at least one pharmaceutical company has created a "documentary" film to appear in theatres near you (see "No Oscar for Centocor PR Effort"). So, it may not be too much of a stretch to envision TV sitcoms based on characters created for drug ads.

Here's a few project pitches for Drug Brand Extension Sitcoms that I hope CBS, Fox, or even HBO will "greenlight" and thereby make me rich.

Scenario: In exchange for ripping up the paper IOUs of a few deadbeat Hollywood directors I whopped in Texas Hold'em, I was able to get an appointment with a few TV studio execs to pitch my ideas. The following is a transcript of a recent pitch I made to "Sidney Greenlight," an executive at a TV studio to remain nameless.

Mack: Sidney, thanks for your time, which I won't waste with small talk. My idea is a sitcom featuring Abraham Lincoln and a beaver. I call it "Abe and the Beav," you know, sounds kind of like "the beav" from "Father Knows Best," so it's got that old-time homey appeal, right?

Sid: Hmm... sounds good. But I don't know about the beaver. Too sexual.

Mack: Yeah, right! Let's lose the beaver. In fact, forget Abe also -- too Republican, right? Here's another idea -- a bee with a French accent that's always bothering people around the home when they are doing chores or playing frisbee -- get it? Bee, frisBEE? Uhm...anyway, I think the French are back in favor, don't you think so?

Sid: I can't relate to no f**king insect!

Mack: Sure, sure, I get what you're saying. How about this? A moth! No,no, that's another insect, right? But it doesn't sting, does it? That makes it OK. See, the moth flits from house to house at night and there's a story in each house -- kind of a "24" thing -- each year's episodes represent one night in the life of the moth -- they only live one night, right? I think I'm right about that -- flitting from house to house, kind of a Desperate Housewives subplot going on. You know, the moth finds women in bed at each house?

Sid: Too late night. We need family stuff!

Mack: Yeah, yeah, late night sitcoms are not doing too well -- "Lucky Louie" sucks, right? How about this -- I call it "Pipe People of Paradise." Kind of a "Robots" movie knockoff, know what I'm saying? They're cute, not scary, and they like bird watching and they always have to take a leak! No, they're always afraid of leaking! That's it. What do you think?

Sid: Mack, I don't know where you come up with these characters and ideas! You must be nuts! Get the hell out of my office!

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