The Big Pitch: How should ABC promote Dennis Miller and new Monday Night Football lineup?

Matt Winkler

Matt Winkler

Matt Winkler

American University

Washington, DC

Fortunately for ABC, Monday Night Football is already a household

television product with no brand building needed. However, the telecast

reached its appeal for a good reason - it was always entertaining and


Much of that development can be traced to the mega-media personality in

the booth, Howard Cosell - you either loved him or hated him. That

controversy sparked weekly national debate and that awareness will be

ABC’s best promotional tool today. Most people are familiar with

Miller’s racy delivery and more people will tune in because they don’t

know what he’ll say next. When will Miller be ’bleeped’ for his bad

language? Anyway, the Generation X viewers seem to be particularly

attracted to that feature. Finally, does it matter who is in the booth?

Last season, MNF suffered a severe ratings slump because of boring games

featuring marquee teams that played well below their pre-season

expectations. MNF’s lack of entertainment value was exposed, which is

why producer Don Ohlmeyer craved the star power that Miller


Barry Kluger

Kluger Media Group

Scottsdale, AZ

It’s always been about the game, not the guys. And until Miller gets his

sea legs, he’s a fish out of water. My advice to ABC: leave it


Miller will either find his niche or not, and the game will continue to

be watched as it has been for decades. If people are comfortable with

his banter, and he wins them over, word of mouth will rule and offset

any negative reviews. But Miller has to realize this is not HBO and he

can’t have viewers running for a dictionary every time he makes a


He has a shot to be this generation’s hip Howard Cosell where you hate

to love him or love to hate him. One more PR tip for ABC: don’t create

expectations you can’t keep.

Peter Seligman

Dan Klores Associates

New York

When newly hired producer Don Ohlmeyer hired Dennis Miller to rejuvenate

Monday Night Football, football purists threw a penalty flag on the bold

move, but others called it a stroke of genius. From a PR perspective,

the move appears to be paying off in touchdowns. In a shrewd move by

ABC, Miller has barely been set up for any interviews. They are letting

him feel his way into the booth, not increasing the pressure by adding

undue hype. Sure, Miller has done a few things, like a Sports

Illustrated cover and a conference call with reporters. Since then,

though, he has been held off from interviews. The payoff? More than 500

articles have been printed about Miller, without one interview. Ohlmeyer

wanted a buzz; well, he certainly got it. Now the key is to let Miller

find his groove, get into the regular season and then line him up for

interviews that will garner even more attention. I can’t imagine getting

any bigger than what they have achieved thus far, but if one month is

any indication, watch out for football to become ’Miller Time.’

Wayne Catan

Catan Communications

Mine Hill, NJ

The buzz is here for Monday Night Football. It’s now important for ABC’s

PR staff to dovetail on the Dennis Miller hype. For on-air respect, ABC

should fill Miller with a wide range of NFL factoids. ABC should create

and publicize a print roundtable event and broadcast it live on


The addition of Eric Dickerson and Melissa Stark on the sidelines could

be pushed through with a fantasy camp promotion with Dickerson and a

junior reporter contest with Stark. It’s also extremely important for

ABC to keep play-by-play man Al Michaels in the public eye. ABC should

continue to leverage its new media outlet,, and conduct chats

with Miller and Dan Fouts, the third man in the booth

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins

Already registered?
Sign in