Networks and the major studios’ TV production arms are ripping pages out of the Oscar strategy book (even tapping boutique Oscar advisers) to mastermind A-list soirees and guerrilla campaigns to move the buzz meter beyond DVD screeners and TV Academy Q&As. This year, Fox and NBC Universal are rolling a Brooklyn Nine-Nine food truck all over LA, handing out coffee and donuts. Last year, Netflix blitzkrieged the town with several For Your Consideration stunts, including putting lawn signs for House of Cards and Arrested Development in upscale Emmy-voter neighborhoods.
The result? Fourteen nominations. While Netflix is mum on its tricks for this year, other networks are shooting for the stars. Fox invited TV Academy voters to the studio lot for a Modern Family wedding-themed cocktail reception (above) in the spirit of Mitch and Cam’s nuptials. Brooklyn Nine-Nine threw a “Steak-Out” on the Universal lot. FX is getting voters in a New Orleans state of mind with a Creole-themed barbecue to celebrate American Horror Story. And A&E followed its screening of Bonnie & Clyde with a Prohibition-themed party.
Even if an Emmy campaign turns into a bust for a network, it still can be about the prestige. “At USA we would ask each year if we had the money for an FYC campaign,” says TV historian Tim Brooks, who served as VP of research for USA Networks and helped launch the then named SciFi Channel. “We would put shows up for awards and, many times, it was to show that we were doing something for the talent. An audience can sometimes be ambivalent to the awards you win, but to the Hollywood creative community it means a lot, especially when a network is looking to draw bigger names to their projects.”