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IMC Certificate students brainstorm marketing plan for CBS show

CBS debuted a comedy starring Robin Williams this fall, and the network wants Medill students to help promote the new show.

Angie Kucharski (BSJ87, MSJ88), vice president of media strategies at CBS Television, returned to Medill to tell students about the opportunity to promote “The Crazy Ones.” The student who comes up with the winning idea gets an internship at CBS.

Students in Lecturer Marty Kohr’s Entertainment Marketing class, made up of students in Medill’s undergraduate IMC certificate program, are finalizing their ideas, due for submission on Oct. 30. But it isn’t just classmates vying for the internship.

The competition, available only to students in this class at Northwestern, is also available in specific marketing classes at New York University, Boston University, Ithaca College and the University of Southern California.

CBS reached out to university students because the network hopes to expand the show to a younger audience. Kucharski told the students to make their ideas as big as possible and find the best way to engage viewers in the content.

“Television is an immensely personal thing,” Kucharski said. To really get at the heart of what an audience wants, students need to remember that television is “all about the viewer experience.”

Kucharski told students to expand their horizons when it comes to executing their marketing ideas. Some of the important things to keep in mind about younger viewers – essentially, audiences the same age as the students she was addressing -- is that they are increasingly watching television in alternate ways. From online-based platforms like Netflix and Hulu to delayed viewing through digital video recorders (DVRs), audiences are becoming more elusive when it comes to targeting marketing campaigns.

“The TV landscape is changing and viewer behavior is evolving,” Kucharski said. “We [marketers] have to evolve too.”

To prepare students for the contest, she showed students the pilot episode and gave them the rundown on what the show is all about. “The Crazy Ones” stars Williams as the zany head of an advertising agency in Chicago (loosely based on Leo Burnett Worldwide), with Sarah Michelle Gellar co-starring as his daughter, who also works at the agency. The show airs after “The Big Bang Theory,” one of CBS’s ratings giants, and opposite “Grey’s Anatomy” on ABC, “Glee” on Fox and the new “The Michael J. Fox Show” on NBC.

Kohr said students in his class are uniquely positioned for this contest because of all the Northwestern connections to the show. Kucharski, from Medill, is leading the marketing effort, while Jason Winer, director of the hit TV show “Modern Family” and a 1994 graduate of the School of Communication, is executive producer.