FX has canceled the TV show Terriers. You’re probably not too crushed by the news. It’s safe to say that the majority of the people who will read this blog post never even heard of the show before today since less than a million people watched the premiere. A million may seem like a lot but 13.5 million people watched the Lost finale, so in TV terms, not so much.
What does the cancellation of a low rated TV show have to do with marketing? I’ll tell you. Or rather, I’ll show you. Just look at the ad FX used to advertise the series. It was one of a couple of graphics that all featured snarling dogs. Add that up with the title of the show, “Terriers” and you gotta figure its about dogs, right? Wrong.
Terriers was a series about two friends who become unlicensed private detectives and stumble into a major conspiracy theory — I think. I’m not really sure. I couldn’t find a proper description of the plot on IMDB or even the show’s actual website.
I did find critics saying that this was one of the most innovative, action packed, quirky crime dramas on TV. Who knew? I didn’t and apparently, I’m not alone in that.
The point, if you haven’t figured it out by now is that the old adage is true. You only get one chance to make a first impression. Trying to be cute and clever can be confusing and though people may remember your ad, they won’t remember what it’s for.
John Landgraf, the President of FX, chose to comment on the situation, a very unprecedented move, by saying that the marketing was not at fault. He told Deadline Hollywood:
He ordered a study with 600 people who had not seen the show that examined the effectiveness of Terriers’ TV promos that had dominated the series’ marketing campaign. The testing showed that the promos “represented the show extremely well and explained very well what it was about.”
He goes on to say that marketing is being unfairly blamed for the show’s poor performance. Maybe, but if four million people had watched the premiere then only two million returned for the next episode, you’d have a case against the show itself. But when less than a million tune in in the first place, then you really can’t blame the series, can you?
When it comes to marketing a TV show, a website or a product, the first thing you have to do is get people in the door. And clearly, this was a marketing campaign that failed on the first step.