Last year, the revamped Two And a Half Men with new leading man Ashton Kutcher was the most anticipated premiere of the fall. Now Anger Management, FX’s upcoming comedy starring fired Two And a Half Men star Charlie Sheen, is the highest-tracking new series of the summer among adults 18-49. The two premieres have something else in common — most of their contents have been kept under wraps until the actual broadcast. The Two And a Half Men campaign ran under the “All Will Be Revealed” slogan and didn’t feature any footage from the season premiere. Anger Management is employing a similar strategy, relying on conceptual trailers, like the big-budget Train Wreck one, instead of actual clips from the show. Two weeks before the June 28 debut, FX had rolled out on-air only 3-4 trailers cut from episodes of the series, each of them featuring 10-15 seconds of material, mostly one-liners of Sheen’s character. Of those trailers, only one was available online on the FX site. In the past couple of days, the network has put out the remaining of eight such teasers planned in the campaign. (You can watch one of them below) Compare that to the 3+min trailers the broadcast networks put out for their new series for next season.
The similarity to the pre-launch strategy of post-Charlie Sheen Two And a Half Men was not intentional, FX’s EVP of marketing and on-air promotion Stephanie Gibbons said. “That’s our protocol,” she said, noting that FX never ran trailers with actual footage from American Horror Story either, betting instead on conceptual and mood-setting teasers. “We wanted to address what happened (to Sheen) before and open the next chapter,” said Gibbons, referring to the campaign’s early trailers, in which Sheen referenced his turbulent recent past, which culminated in his meltdown and subsequent dismissal from Two And a Half Men. As for the decision to keep footage from the show to a minimum in the promo campaign, “We will give you a taste but you won’t be stuffed before the meal begins,” Gibbons said.
In yet another link between Two And a Half Men and Anger Management, the Anger Management premiere’s opening scene features Sheen’s character, an anger management therapist with anger issues, in a middle of a rant that alludes to the actor’s firing from Two And a Half Men and his replacement on the CBS show. “You can’t fire me, I quit,” Sheen’s character says in the pilot screener. “You think you can replace me with some other guy, go ahead, it won’t be the same.” CBS did, and Two And a Half Men with Kutcher broke ratings records in its premiere, hitting series highs and attracting almost 29 million viewers. Now it’s Sheen’s turn.