What the Ladies of #TGIT Can Teach You about Marketing

If you’re a fan of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal or How to Get Away with Murder, you probably know that the original ladies of #TGIT are the lead actresses from each of these shows, which aired consecutively on ABC on Thursday nights when the successful #TGIT campaign first launched in 2015.

In a single commercial, Ellen Pompeo, Kerry Washington and Viola Davis could be seen striding purposefully, separately, toward a mysterious door. On the other side of the door, viewers discover they’ve come together to settle down on a couch with wine and popcorn to watch a live viewing of their shows. Thank God, it’s Thursday (#TGIT)!

The #TGIT Tactic

Television series scheduling is a game of testing optimum viewing slots for targeted audiences. New or struggling shows are often slated to tailgate with established shows, in hopes that fans will catch a glimpse of them right before or right after their favorites. You’ve probably found new picks and rejected a few duds that way, yourself.

The #TGIT campaign is more than that, for several reasons:

1. #TGIT is an actual creative campaign, not just advertising.

Grey’s, Scandal or Murder fans are established, regular viewers. The campaign theme connects these completely different Shonda Rhimes shows together by linking the stars with A) getting comfy,  B) watching all three shows, and C) wine. From watching only the commercial, you’d never know what any of the shows are even about. It’s kind of brilliant, from a FOMO (fear of missing out) perspective.

2. The campaign is based on the assumption that if you’re a fan of one Shonda Rhimes show, you might love her others.

That’s why, recently, How to Get Away with Murder was replaced with The Catch, the newest Shondaland project. The updated #TGIT commercial now shows The Catch’s lead actress, Mireille Enos, joining the Thursday evening couch marathon.

The #TGIT strategy is a version of bundling products together to introduce new offerings to audiences who are already sold on one or more components. Building commodities communities from those successes is the point of #TGIT. The only thing that was new when the campaign started was the hashtag and the cobbling together of the lineup as a thing of its own.

In other words, without creating a new product, the community associated with each show was expanded by linking them in a fun new way. Ratings show the idea is working.  It became more than a fall launch campaign. As an ABC representative stated, “We’ve sort of created a lifestyle.”1

Indeed, what fangirl or boy of any or all of these stars wouldn’t love to join that couch party? Watching the lineup with your own wine and an entire Twitter audience (including the stars) commenting throughout is a close second. The Twittersphere lights up on Thursday nights with the #TGIT hashtag, as viewers watch live—which is getting rarer—and tweet throughout. They can even post customized emojis using the shows’ hashtagged titles or initials (i.e. #HTGAWM).2

3. The #TGIT hashtag connects around something familiar.

We’ve all been saying ‘Thank God, it’s Friday” weekly, for years. #TGIThursday is less a sigh of relief, more an invitation: Why wait ‘til Friday to treat yourself?

Finding Your Own #TGIT

The #TGIT campaign demonstrates the beauty and art of marketing. It’s about coming up with new ways to position your products and services to create something entirely new. And there’s almost no limit to the ideas that can be generated.

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The challenge for all organizations disrupted by the shifts in demographics and technology is to think about fresh ways to grow commodities communities around your products and services.  Here are a few ideas to brainstorm:

  • What are your most popular offerings?
  • What offerings show potential but haven’t taken off yet?
  • Can you reintroduce an offering by advertising it as a limited-time freebie to users of an already established program?
  • What can you rearrange to create something new, perhaps two programs a specific demographic would enjoy, juxtaposed with a social component?
  • What connection can you find between your programs – nonsensical and clever, or financially compelling?
  • Who do you want to target and with what felt benefit? #TGIT targets women in need of pampering. (You know a few of those!)
  • Can you run a bundling contest idea among your staff (especially your creative Millennials)?
  • Try a brainstorming session with your team: Everyone submits a well-known pop icon (a song, movie, TV show, slogan, etc). on a Post-it note. Display these on one side of a whiteboard across from every program name, also listed individually on Post-it notes. Challenge everyone to find at least one connection, while considering the benefits and challenges of each program.

Hashtag It!

While getting your creative juices flowing and coming up with your new campaigns, don’t forget the hashtag. Popular ideas are not only spread through hashtags, they can be born from a clever tagline.

1Daily Brief:: #TGIT: ABC Evaluates Campaign After First Season
2Green Bay Press-Gazette: Express Your #TGIT Delight in Emoji Form