Showtime's Nurse Jackie campaign brings in record ratings

For the series premiere of Nurse Jackie, Showtime focused its PR on the show's star, Edie Falco, making her return to premium TV after The Sopranos.

 

Company: Showtime
Campaign: Series premiere of Nurse Jackie

PR Team: Showtime and Peggy Siegal

Duration: February 2008 – June 2009

Budget: $160,000

For the series premiere of Nurse Jackie, Showtime focused its PR on the show's star, Edie Falco, making her return to premium TV after The Sopranos. Starting when the pilot pickup was announced in February 2008, Showtime's PR team got Falco out in the press to show off her new role.

Strategy: "It was incumbent upon us at Showtime from a publicity and marketing standpoint to herald that return," says Richard Licata, EVP of corporate communications for Showtime. "And also to kind of rebrand Edie from Carmela [Soprano] to Jackie." The PR campaign allowed for lots of access for the press and featured photos of Falco, highlighting the physical differences that made her Jackie.

Tactics: Showtime arranged on-set visits for major media, such as USA Today and the Los Angeles Times, and hosted a screening specifically for bloggers in Los Angeles. The team also hosted a media and influencer event in New York with help from Peggy Siegal, where guests were encouraged to bring a doctor. The network also hosted "opinion-making screenings," Licata says, for nurses and other healthcare professionals. Online, Nurse Jackie was on social networks like Twitter and Facebook, and made the first episode available for viewing online a week before the premiere. "It was a really aggressive push from our new media department," Licata says.

Results: Nurse Jackie had the highest-rated debut of an original show on Showtime, Licata says, and received higher ratings the second week than the first. That equaled more than 1 million viewers on June 8 at 10:30pm, and an additional 350,000 for the encore that played an hour later that same night, according to Nielsen data. The network also picked up Nurse Jackie for a second season.

Future: "I am a big proponent of keeping up momentum," Licata said, and Falco will continue to make appearances in the press. But going forward, he added, publicity will also center on the supporting characters and actors, including Peter Facinelli and Eve Best.

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