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Driving Your Evangelists 'Nuts'

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As you may have heard, fans of the CBS series Jericho have accomplished their goal of bringing the series back after the network cancelled it. The series, which CBS originally canceled after one season, was saved when its fans rallied together to petition the network via signatures... and nuts.

Lots and lots of nuts.
In Jericho's season-ended episode, a character's exclamation of "Nuts!" drove fans to adopt it as a rallying cry after CBS announced that the series had been cancelled. So fans sent nuts by the truckload to CBS' New York offices. Twenty-five tons worth of nuts.
In total, CBS received over 30,000 emails from fans, and over 50,000 pounds of nuts. Fans also donated over $15,000 to tornado victims in Kansas, where Jericho is set.
CBS got the message and agreed to bring the series back next year for a limited run, with the possibility of more episodes if viewership rises.
"A loyal and passionate community has clearly formed around the show," Nina Tassler, president of CBS Entertainment, said. "But that community needs to grow. It needs to grow on the CBS Television Network, as well as on the many digital platforms where we make the show available. We will count on you to rally around the show, to recruit new viewers with the same grass-roots energy, intensity and volume you have displayed in recent weeks."
Note what CBS just did. They not only acknowledged that Jericho's fans wanted to bring the series back, but decided to utilize their power, by giving them "ownership" of the show. CBS reached out to the show's evangelists, and told them that the show's future belongs to them.
This is BRILLIANT! CBS just tapped into the natural tendency that fans of Jericho already had in promoting the show, and gave them a reason to focus that energy. I wouldn't be a bit surprised if Jericho wasn't one of the hits of the upcoming season.
And all those nuts that CBS received? According to Nedra at Spare Change, the network is working with City Harvest, a hunger-relief program, and State Island Project Homefront, which makes care packages for troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Kudos to Jericho's fans for taking ownership of their series, and kudos to CBS for encouraging them to do so.

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Mack Collier is a social-media strategist based in Alabama. He helps companies build programs that let them better connect with their fans. His first business book, Think Like a Rock Star: How to Create Social Media and Marketing Strategies That Turn Customers Into Fans, was published in April of 2013 by McGraw-Hill.

Twitter: @MackCollier
LinkedIn: Mack Collier

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  • by patmcgraw Fri Jun 8, 2007 via blog

    Before we get all misty eyed over CBS giving the evangelists "ownership", let's think it over for a minute. It's all the responsibility without any authority. Remember that it was CBS' decision to put 'Jericho' on hiatus when the viewership was strong in order to relaunch the program during sweeps and enjoy (hopefully) a huge ratings victory. That failed. They chased away the viewers because you never knew when the damn show would be on TV. So what's to stop CBS from putting the shows on a random schedule over all 7 days of the week and at various times...along with a few "Interrupted for this special events" for grins and giggles? Sorry, didn't mean to sound so bitter. But haven't we all sat through enough "OK, you're in charge" pep talks only to watch something different occur?

  • by Jane Fri Jun 8, 2007 via blog

    Thank you for your article & thanks to CBS for this opportunity to gather new Jericho fans. We hope you will support our ongoing efforts.

  • by Mack Collier Fri Jun 8, 2007 via blog

    Pat I hear what you are saying, but Jericho's fan have more authority than you think, IMO. CBS has essentially made a 'promise' to the show's fans that if ratings rise, they'll keep the show on the air. If they break that promise, what's to stop a movement by fans to boycott the entire network? What's to stop that from getting mainstream coverage and having viewers that aren't fans of Jericho join in? Probably not gonna happen is it? Just like 25 tons worth of peanuts won't get delivered to CBS, right? And I agree with the inconsistent viewing schedule, this has become a big problem with new series. I watch very few TV series, but a couple of years ago I enjoyed the Fox series Reunion. Reunion was cancelled at the season's midpoint because the ratings for the series were too low. The reason why those ratings were so low, was because Fox would show 2 episodes, then have a month's break, then show 3 episodes, then none for 6 weeks. And if you missed one episode of the series, you had no idea what was going on. Hells bells, NBC even did that with Heroes this year, not showing ANY episodes in February or March.

  • by CK Sat Jun 9, 2007 via blog

    I'm glad that this is getting coverage (thanks, Mack ;-). The thing is, this kind of viewer backlash/push is not new...these fan-based initiatives have been strong for years. Look at what fans did with water bottles for Stargate last year...or Farscape two years ago...or Buffy several years in a row. Or how fans took NBC-Universal to task last year over the "Serenity" copyright infringement silliness (fans were marketing the movie for free and then were billed for it, NBC-Uni caved). Point is, these fans have been organized and marketing savvy for years--and, as a result, won my respect years ago. Glad that companies and fellow marketers are taking notice. Their time is (over)due. As for the nutty Jericho campaign--brilliant.

  • by Holly Kasun Sat Jun 9, 2007 via blog

    Hi Mack: It seems to me there's a really interesting opportunity here for CBS to leverage technology. Why don't they use the traditional tv platform to launch the series (Jericho as an example) and if it doesn't make it on network tv yet they still have a strong following, why don't they continue to develop the content (shows) and distribute it online? Itunes? CBS distribution platform? CBS would make bank especially because there are so many ways to cut production costs when making content for online viewing. Then, all those Jericho fans can have their show when they want and evangelize to have others download the series. Everyone wins!

  • by Mack Collier Sat Jun 9, 2007 via blog

    Holly I like your way of thinking, and believe you'll see some of this as the networks get more comfortable in distributing content online. I did notice that CBS called on Jericho fans to also buy the Season One DVD this summer!

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