In the news
Despite a massive showing of fan support, CBS announced on March 21 that it was canceling Jericho, for a second time.
CBS execs brought back the drama in February, after initially canceling the series in May 2007 due to poor Nielsen ratings. The show's reprieve was attributed to an overwhelming grassroots effort by fans.
In reference to the line "Nuts" from the show's season finale, fans sent thousands of pounds of peanuts to the CBS headquarters, in addition to letter writing, telephone calls, online forums, and a petition with more than 125,000 signatures.
Unfortunately, the second season's ratings were lower than the first. In a statement, CBS said, "We have no regrets bringing back the show for a second try. We listened to our viewers."
No new grassroots efforts have been launched yet, but after last season's cliff-hanger, Jericho viewers were at least given a conclusive ending, beyond the abrupt cut to black.
Why does it matter?
Grassroots campaigns are frequently used to bring communities together for a cause. But, as the Jericho fan efforts prove, it is often difficult to pinpoint exactly what is necessary to maintain momentum and ultimately achieve long-term goals.
Hard-to-control elements, like TV ratings, can be difficult to overcome, no matter how powerful a campaign is, explained Glenn Oswald, account supervisor at Marx Layne.
Oswald also said PR agencies can help efforts stay on task by assisting in sending direct-mail campaigns, holding community meetings, and creating Web sites.
Having a leader to reach out to the community is also helpful, especially if the effort is local. "Word of mouth is critical," added Oswald. "You want a person who is well connected."
Also, "you just have to cover your bases and make sure you don't underestimate your opponents," he said. "People get very passionate about things on both sides."
1. Cadbury discontinued the Wispa bar in 2003, but brought it back in 2007 in Britain and Ireland, after fans conducted a large grassroots initiative over MySpace and Facebook.
2. In 2005, Mozilla employed a grassroots campaign called Firefox Flicks in an effort to help draw attention to the Firefox Web browser.
3. When WB threatened to cancel Roswell, fans sent the network thousands of letters and bottles of Tabasco sauce, a favorite of the characters, saving the show for a season.
4. In response to a grassroots campaign effort, Procter & Gamble agreed to begin selling Fair Trade coffee through Millstone, its specialty coffee division.
5. Due to a large grassroots campaign supporting an earlier version of the movie Fanboys, The Weinstein Company announced it will be released on DVD in two versions.