Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.: Tbs Very Funny campaign

Rayna Bailey


Although it reached 88 million households in 2003, the daily average viewership of the cable Turner Broadcasting System (TBS) Superstation had dropped to 979,000, down 6 percent over the previous year. Viewers tuning in each day during prime time had slipped 5 percent, to 1.7 million. Further, the average age of viewers was skewing older, rather than the younger adult demographic craved by advertisers. In addition, with programming that included reruns of old black-and-white sitcoms, action movies, and Atlanta Braves baseball games, the TBS offerings in general entertainment and the station's lack of focus were becoming liabilities in the huge cable television arena.

To focus its programming, establish a clear identity with viewers, and attract a younger audience, TBS in 2004 reinvented itself by borrowing a strategy that, three years earlier, had been successful for sister station Turner Network Television (TNT). While TNT had positioned itself as the network for drama, TBS claimed the flip side of the coin and relaunched itself as the place for comedy. To support the makeover, the network dropped its "Superstation" moniker and adopted the tagline "TBS very funny." Working with Publicis New York, it also launched a rebranding campaign that included television spots set in a TBS call center, with operators responding to callers' descriptions of funny situations. One spot, for example, showed a caller asking if a boss's verbal abuse of a coworker was funny. The operator listened to the description of the situation and then told the caller that it was "very funny" and that the caller could laugh. The campaign also included print, online, and outdoor ads. Although network executives did not release the cost of the campaign, the New York Times, estimated the budget at $50 million.