So, the WB aired it’s final episodes last night. Before I get to what I thought let me explain why it sort of matters.
I was watching Buffy when the WB as an entity came into being for me. I was in college taking some sort of marketing/communication courses that tie in to this story. I don’t remember how but I vaguely remember that they do; they were an influence on my perception of all this. Most importantly I was working for a company that had a huge focus on into brand image and brand identity. I was impressed upon with this brand identity and the importance of keeping that identity separate and unique. Then I went home one night and saw this black and white clip with Alyson Hannigan (part of the backlot breaks in 1998) and I was fascinated.
Here was a tv network creating a brand identity. I had never seen anything like this and loved it; loved the idea of it and probably responded especially well because, even though I wasn’t a part of the generation they ‘defined’ I was close enough to be able to relate to it.
I loved to see the new image campaign each year, to find out how the network was evolving and redefining itself. Because in those image campaigns the network really became something more than just its individual shows. It became its own entity, made up of the individual pieces of its shows, but still maintaining its own identity regardless of the shows that were actually on. I mean, there was a time when I wasn’t watching hardly any shows on the WB, but I still had an affinity for the network. I was still curious what the image campaign would be that year.
After all that you can imagine I was excited about last night. I loved that the network was going back to its roots, acknowledging the things that defined it and celebrating something in us, the fans, by giving us a night like that; connecting to us like it was the old days. I was especially excited to see all the old image campaigns. Because the Variety article I read said,
In addition to the pilots, [the] Frog plans to fill its final night with a bevy of classic promos and image campaigns from the WB’s 11-year history.
So I was kind of disappointed.
- Why not air all of the original image campaigns in their entirety? That’s what I really wanted to see.
- Why focus on “Watch the Frog”? Yes, it brands the network well, but it was the least impactful and shortest lived of all the campaigns (2002).
- And then to repeat clips with all the footage they have to have? I didn’t understand that at all.
- I liked the reimagining of the “Faces of the WB” with the original song and the years and everything. Particularly nice since it was the first full fledged campaign in the format we now know. It would have been nice to include this toward the end after we’d seen all the image campaigns that brought us to this point.
- The final reel was really good, if incomplete. I can imagine that Gilmore Girls, Smallville, Supernatural and One Tree Hill were largely ignored because the CW wouldn’t want their big shows to be used to brand an old network. It makes sense, but they’re being pulled to the new network for a reason. They were a big part of the WB.
- Also there wasn’t a glimmer of Roswell anywhere in the final reel. You could almost explain that away by saying that it was low rated and so the network thought it inconsequential in the scheme of the 11 year history. But they had Nikki Cox on the final reel (who, random story, I saw in the drive through of a Jack-in-the-Box once years ago). And Jamie Fox. Who actually remembers that they were on the network? Which is not to say that they shouldn’t have been on the final reel; it just blows the inconsequential theory out of the water. Maybe it was a licensing or rights thing, I don’t know.
- Veering away from the image campaign; how much fun was it to see Josh Holloway get dusted in the Angel pilot? Maybe not so much fun for those who own Angel on dvd and so weren’t surprised. But I don’t so I was and thought it was fun.
So, that’s what I thought. This may sound strange and stupid but it’s kind of a new world now for me.
1999 – The original Faces campaign (one of my favorites)
Slightly different but also a lot the same
2000 – The Night is Young (one of my favorites)
and 2000 – Oh What a Night
2002 – great graphics, but I feel like the song is wrong
2003 – one of my favorites
2005 – and this is the year I stopped liking the direction the image campaigns were going but you can see how it’s the precursor to the look of the cw