Sitcom 'Roseanne’ Transit Takeover Includes Subway Train, Bus Shelter Wraps ... Even a Loud-Mouthed Bench
She’s back! ABC’s blue-collar sitcom "Roseanne," which graced the small screen for nearly all of the '90s and nabbed more than 17 Emmy Awards, has returned after a 20-year hiatus. The revival premiered in late March with all of the original cast members from the Conner clan - including Dan Conner (John Goodman), who they killed off during the series finale back in 1998.
Leading up to the triumphant return, ABC’s marketing department created a multifaceted promotional campaign which of course included a slew of TV commercial slots. But took it a few steps further visually with a total transit takeover in major cities across America, including NYC Subway train cars, bus shelters and bus stop benches.
“With any stunt or specialty media, ABC’s goal is always to create buzz and get people talking," says Rebecca Daugherty, EVP marketing, ABC Entertainment and ABC Studios. “We loved the idea (and challenge) of bringing a smile and a bit of comfort to weary commuters.”
NYC Shuttle Wrap
Being the city that never sleeps, New York audiences are exposed to more media than most Americans, so grabbing their attention on a subway ride can be quite the task. ABC, with the help of BLT Communications, LLC and OUTFRONT Media, wrapped a train in all of the homey comfort that is affiliated with the TV show, bringing riders right into the Conner home, complete with the unforgettable afghan on the couch.
This idea was generated internally by the marketing department at ABC. “We loved the idea - and challenge - of bringing a smile to weary commuters,” Daugherty explains. “When we first began ideating about the ‘Roseanne’ campaign, it was important for us to tap into the nostalgia, ‘comfort food’ angle and remind viewers what they loved about the original 'Roseanne.' The couch, afghan and Roseanne’s laugh continued to resonate in all our discussions. Riding a subway is not always enjoyable, so we wanted to provide NYC riders with a cozy, immersive subway experience that would literally invite them into the Conner living room.”
The specific train ABC used is a space that is commonly wrapped with advertising graphics. OUTFRONT Media streamlined the process from templates through installation and was a strong partner in the production of this space, says Daugherty.
The wraps were printed on digital large-format printers, utilizing low tac adhesive vinyl and were installed by hand by a team contracted by OUTFRONT Media. From conception, the project took six weeks to install (two weeks to design and approve, two weeks preparing print-ready art/files and two weeks for printing and installation). The media ran along the NYC subway routes for four weeks.
Cozy Bus Shelters
“Riding a bus is not always enjoyable, so we wanted to provide NYC, LA and Chicago passengers with a cozy, immersive bus shelter experience that would literally invite them into the Conner living room,” Daugherty explains.
Each of the three cities has their own transit authority requirements that ABC had to adhere to. There were multiple conversations between all parties involved to confirm ABC would produce per the guidelines provided so there wouldn’t be any issues once the materials were delivered to each site. Accurate diagrams for each shelter were critical in the design and production phase to ensure the final materials would fit each space and install as seamlessly as possible.
The bus shelter project took eight weeks from concept approval through production and installation and remained in place - warming up commuters for four weeks - leading up to the TV show premiere. Many hands were involved in this project, including BLT Communications, LLC for creative concept and coordination of production for all elements, Atomic Props for fabrication of couch props, Lithographix for printing of all accompanying graphics, Billups Worldwide for media buy, and OUTFRONT Media and JCDecaux for media placement and final installation.
The printed materials were produced on digital large-format printers with UV inks on 3M adhesive materials (solid vinyl and perforated vinyl) and were applied directly to the bus shelter structure; the backlit shelter graphics were printed on CityLight.
A Loud-Mouthed Bench
Through all of ABC’s viewer research, Roseanne’s iconic laugh was found to be so recognizable the entertainment company identified it as a perfect auditory mnemonic of the show. ABC decided to adorn a bus stop bench not only to reflect the show’s couch, where so many memories happened, but also add the Roseanne laugh, which was the start to every episode opening, to an audio file as well.
“Talking benches aren’t legal in the City of Los Angeles, so we had to find benches in the county that were able to provide strong visibility, providing the impact we needed,” notes Daugherty.
Time was of essence for this part of the transit takeover project due to the added sound effects. Billups sent out media RFPs in December 2017. The sound chips typically must be ordered 60 days prior to the flight, but ABC was able to negotiate this down to 45 days and media was approved quickly by mid-January 2018.
Billups planned and bought the ad space, BLT produced the physical bench ad, media space and the sound chip were furnished by Martin Outdoor. The bench graphics were printed by Lithographix using digital large-format printers on Styrene with an overall laminate.
The benches ran from February 26 through March 25 - with some of the locations, including one audio bench, still up on bonus time, giving tired travelers a little surprise and delight during a long commute.