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In 2004, I was introduced to something that would change my opinion of television forever. I’m, of course, talking about “t.” A combination of great writing, smart and often subtle humor raised the bar of sitcoms. Despite critical acclaim and awards, the show was taken off the air after just three seasons.
Like “My So Called Life,” “Freaks and Geeks” and the bevy of other shows that were taken from us too soon, a cult following soon developed around “AD.” Murmurs that had begun during the third (and eventually, final) season of a move to ShowTime or HBO were followed by years of rumors and off-hand comments from cast members about a reunion movie. Needless to say, the past few years have been an emotional roller coaster. Just when it seemed all hope was lost, comments about a limited run on Netflix emerged. Over time, rumors lead to confirmation from cast and, eventually, an official listing on IMDB.
A lot has happened since 2006 when we last saw the Bluth’s. They’ve changed and so have we. While I’m sure my love of the show will only grow with new fodder, I have also found myself captivated by the marketing machine behind it. What’s particularly compelling is that the marketing initiatives are laser focused on existing fans, featuring inside jokes and references to the show. This has most notably included:
- A traveling Bluth Frozen Banana stand where fans in major cities can get their hand on a famous Bluth banana and, occasionally, rub elbows with a cast member or two
- Integration with Seamless Web with reviews about the Banana stand, teasing the launch of the show
- A brilliant Facebook page that encourages fan engagement with content like calls for captions on show posters and highlighting fan submitted content. In fact, the cover photo features one of these show posters with the consumer’s Twitter handle. It has also featured content from the banana stand activations, tying offline to online
- Consumers browsing Netflix in recent weeks could spot the tell-tale blue hand prints of our favorite Blue Man Group wannabe
If the marketing genius behind the show’s return is any indication, I have no doubt in my mind the return of the Bluth’s will be triumphant. One thing is for sure – in five days when the final countdown to new episodes ends, I’ll be glued to my TV catching up with some old friends. And yes, I’ll be wearing my Mr. Bananagrabber t-shirt with pride.