‘Glee’ vs. ‘True Blood’: It’s Amazing What Clever Marketing and Promotion Can Accomplish

Social networking, tie-in merchandise are key to success of TV shows today

The marketing and promotion of a show is among one of the most important keys in a show’s success. If a series is profitable for its network, its chances of sticking around go up drastically.

In today’s TV world, there are two programs on the air that are, in my opinion, the masters of marketing and promoting themselves. Not only do they push their shows with ad campaigns, but they rake out merchandise. A LOT of merchandise!

Of course I’m talking about the Fox series "Glee" and the HBO series "True Blood."

But which show does a better job?

First we must understand that "Glee" is on a broadcast network and "True Blood" is on a cable network. That means "Glee" will be exposed to a much larger audience, being on Fox.

Let’s look at the merchandise both shows have dished out. This includes DVDs, albums and other things available.

Glee the Music Volume 1"Glee" (after one season)

– Singles on iTunes
– "Glee the Music, Volume 1"
– "Glee the Music, Volume 2"
– "Glee the Music, Volume 3 — Showstoppers"
– "Glee the Music: The Power of Madonna"
– "Glee the Music: Journey to Regionals"
– "Glee – Volume 1: Road to Sectionals" – 4-disk DVD box set
– "Glee – The Complete First Season" – 7-disk DVD box set (Sept. 14, 2010)
– "Glee: The Beginning" – Book (Sept. 1, 2010)
– "Glee: Foreign Exchange" – Book (Feb. 15, 2011)
– A deal was just signed to release a "Glee"-themed karaoke machine, a Wii game, board games and trivia games.
– Hallmark cards will be introduced
– Macy’s will be carrying a "Glee"-related clothing line.
– And, of course, there’s the "’Glee’ Live!" summer tour.

TruBlood ad"True Blood" (launched its third season Sunday)

– "True Blood – The Complete First Season"
– "True Blood – The Complete Second Season"
– "True Blood Soundtrack – Season One"
– "True Blood Soundtrack – Season Two"
– Tru Blood beverage
– T-shirts and clothing
– Comic book series (July 2010)

If we look strictly at merchandise, "Glee" has the distinct advantage. Especially when you consider "Glee" has been on TV for a single season, compared with "True Blood," going into its third season.

Now let’s look into the promotion of these shows.

Fox took the unorthodox approach with "Glee" by giving the audience just a taste of the series at first. The network aired the pilot episode in May 2009. After just one episode, "Glee" was a hit, raking in 9.62 million viewers during its “preview” airing.

The network then spent the whole summer promoting the show. Fox knew it had a hit on its hands, and fans couldn’t wait until September. It was a smart move by the network. Not only did it give the audience a taste of the show, it gave the network all summer to build anticipation for the fall.

"True Blood" debuted on HBO in September 2008. The series was based on a popular series of novels that tapped into the popularity of anything vampire-related at the time, giving HBO some built-in interest in the show. "True Blood" debuted with a modest 1.4 million viewers, but numbers went up as the season went along.

The vampire series performed well by cable standards. Before its second season, the show went viral in its promotion. We are especially seeing this for the promotion of the season-three premiere that aired Sunday.

"True Blood" has managed to grow its audience thanks to online promotion. With viral videos, web-exclusive previews, websites created for the show, posters, teasers and more, "True Blood" has taken online marketing to a whole new level in the TV industry. The show also held “Ultimate Fan Events” and has appeared at Comic-Con.

DVD sales also are a huge part of "True Blood’s" success, and a major reason its numbers have grown since its first season.

Of course, with social-networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, it’s that much easier to promote a show. "True Blood" and "Glee" both took that lesson to heart.

When networks look for ways to make a new show appealing to the audience, of course writing, casting, production and stories are important. But as we see with "Glee" and "True Blood," marketing and promotion is a huge part of the battle.