Cast of Community

Cast of Community

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Letter to NBC executives

Good morning!

First of all, I would like to thank you for creating and producing some of the finest comedy shows in the world. I am very grateful to you for allowing Community to exist at all, period.

I will cut to the chase, since I know you are all busy. Extra notes will be at the bottom of this letter, to save your eyeballs. I am writing to you before I post most of this information on my blog:

I would like to propose a 4-prong approach (and, please note, as proposed, most of these ideas are low cost):
1) Demographic study of Community viewers (can be done with local professor supervision to ensure controls, as student thesis, or with interns). This study could be used to break out the key points to sell to your advertisers: age/race/ HHI/computer use. My hypothesis is that viewers of this show are predominately college grads, reasonably high HHI, early adopters, social media savvy, and own several computers. The show is well-written and intelligent, so the viewers are in an "Affluent Geek" category all their own. 
IN MY HOUSE, we are considering purchase of an electric car (Nissan looks good), bought a new computer this week, and are avid computer users (we now have 4 computers and 4 printers, and use the both Internet for business and pleasure).
I am personally willing, and volunteer myself, for any such study, and I am sure the nearly 1 million facebook and countless twitter users (#savecommunity, #sixseasonsandamovie, #community, et al) would jump at the chance to help you with the advertisers.

2) Leverage Social Media Interests (social media interns)
Currently, there is a campaign going to purchase items advertised on the show, both real-time and on Hulu, and tweet support. I personally bought both Yoplait yogurt and Wild Berry 7Up tonight, which were not normal consumer behaviors for me. I have also personally pledged: perform a test drive of an electric car this month (Nissan preferred), look at an htc tmobile phone, buy food at Pizza Hut, visit Lowes, buy boots at Old Navy, buy dinner at Olive Garden, buy the BOGO Starbucks winter drink, and visit a Hallmark store to purchase Christmas cards. My twitter handle is @violincatherine, and please feel free to copy and distribute any of my tweets. Yes, I am giving you legal permission, and yes, I want you to give it to your advertisers.

My current dream, a la Chuck, is Pizza Hut product placement. Who doesn't like pizza? Just make sure the actors don't eat more than one bite per take.

Your show is groundbreaking; I have never felt this kind of call to action before, and I would like your staff to document the scope of it and use it to help your ad sales department.

You can also join the conversation. Again, aside from twitter, you currently have nearly a million followers on the FB Community page. This is a vast, free, untapped resource for you. You can email people through facebook, have them join a group, ask for opinions on the page. You can even run closed focus groups.

3) Crazy stunts for publicity (can be sponsored by various partners)
Top idea this week: Paintball War. Bring in celebrity athletes, actual veterans (ooh, a high-ranking current soldier or war hero would be divine), the cast (with guests Levar Burton, Bette White as referee, Luis Guzman, et al), and other celebrities known as having little physical prowess. I don't know how this would work, but broadcasting it on ESPN would attract new viewers.

Other ideas: snowball war (big in Japan, and a real sport now, who knew), viewing party (sponsored, with plane and hotel tickets, meet and greet, and magazine coverage), stand-up and/or improv comedy contests (the actors on the show would be excellent mentors and referees).

4) Ideas for increasing viewership (minimal actual cost)
I've done a lot of thinking, and I really think I understand what it means to run a big company in a difficult economic climate. So take ideas which make sense, and leave the rest.

My first idea (again, with the help of tweeting interns or new media employees), is to publicize, then re-release for Hulu, AT LEAST the first three episodes of the first season. I dearly want to try to get newbies to fall in love. It needs to go with a twitter hashtag, like #joincommunity, #communityFTW, something like that. Fall in love with Community! And yes, please use those if your guys don't come up with something better. One of my twitter colleagues bought 10 Season 1 DVDs and handed them out to people in the parking lot. Get that: $450 to help save the show. This is a grassroots idea, but let's brainstorm increased viewership ideas together.

I understand, also, that Netflix is a nuisance to a lot of broadcasters. I get it, and I get why. But, again, releasing 3 episodes on their service could get some new people hooked. The gesture would be an AMAZING rush for your existing viewers, too.

OK, bullet points over, thank you for listening, over and out for those of you who have 12 million things on your desk. When you have another minute, I will post a few extra thoughts about online presence in the PS. Thank you for your time, and thank you for broadcasting and nurturing my beloved show, Community!

Yours truly,
Catherine Boyd
twitter: @violincatherine
Harvard-Radcliffe alum, class of '92
fiddle player, Blondage Rocks

(PS - OK, I gave you my bio in 2 lines to emphasize the strong demographics that you're working with. Also, I may not be 25, but I have the online surfing habits of a 25 year old, with strong preferential buying loyalty.

The viewers of community are different from your Nielsen viewers, which is what is causing ad revenue fall off. I am personally saddened by how cheap these ads are for you right now. So, what can you do?

I understand that the ad sales are driven by Nielsen ratings, DVR eyeballs within 3 days of recording, and sometimes itunes purchases.

NBC's parent company, Universal, owns Hulu. You guys have the viewership numbers, right? I don't have a Nielsen box or a DVR. I watch all my shows online, mainly on Hulu. If I'd known about viewer rules, I would've tried to install DVR service somehow.

I would like to propose that the normal Community viewer is highly tech savvy, and early adopters of technology. Since the demographics are strong, the purchasing power is also strong. For instance: My Android 2 and my laptop are two of my best friends. I am also interested in a electric car, and was considering a purchase of one within the next 2 years.

If you would like more detailed purchasing or demographic information about my household, please let me know. I am happy to help you.

I admit, I don't understand why Nielsen is so strong in this process. It makes me sad that reality shows, procedurals, and 2.5 (crackheads), dominate the Nielsen scene. The numbers don't reflect anyone I personally know, or my own household, which makes me sad. I know your advertisers need the demographic information to make an informed purchasing decision. Is there any chance of introducing your online numbers, or creating your own surveys? I think most of your Community viewers are online, which is why you're having this trouble.

Again, I'd like to encourage a friendly banter with your twitter and FB communities. We will run to help you.

OK, I've really rambled long enough, but I really love this show. Also, I am like a female Abed. The recent episode, with Jim Rash in the spotlight, was absolutely breathtaking. I was a Harvard English major, by the way, and your show's writing stands up to the best comedic work that has ever been written. -CB)

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