Target: New Soap Fans

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Soon, you may be asking yourself, “Is that Vincent Pastore, veteran of The Sopranos, hawking soap operas?”

Yes, and so are country singers, X Games stars and an actor on Monk. It's all part of a marketing campaign by ABC Daytime and SoapNet to grow the base of viewers for the genre.

“When there were only three channels of television, soaps were only on during the day. Now there are different platforms,” said Adam Rockmore, senior vice president, marketing, ABC Daytime and SoapNet. “Now, with the proliferation of the Internet and a billion channels on TV, soaps are not the first thing [viewers] look to.”

Soaps are a big part of ABC's legacy, and they are important to the company,” he said. “We've held No.1 in that daypart for a long time, and we want to increase that mark.”

ABC had 45 million unique viewers to its soaps in the second quarter, according to Nielsen ratings that Rockmore cited. He did not break out how many viewers either watch the shows on both ABC and SoapNet or watch them primarily on SoapNet, which re-airs that day's episode of All My Children, One Life to Live and General Hospital in primetime.

The campaign, dubbed the “Take a look” campaign internally, will try to find new viewers at an opportune time of year. Soap viewership tends to rise in the summer, when schools are out and that younger demographic has time to “get into” the dramas offered collectively five times a day on ABC and SoapNet.

Brian Frons, president of ABC Daytime, said that, unlike other networks, Disney operates in a consolidated way, with ABC and SoapNet pooling resources in an effort to gain viewers. He said the genre is still performing strongly. But like all networks, ABC and SoapNet are always looking for new viewers.

The campaign might reach people who enjoy reality shows or nighttime soaps or might have been stranded by the cancellation of such soaps as Passions on NBC.

Frons called this campaign the biggest promo push for soaps in the six years he has been with Disney.

The marketing campaign is designed to have non–soap-related personalities tout attributes that typify the drama on One Life to Live, General Hospital and All My Children.

Pastore talks about the use of “mob power” on General Hospital. Mike Metzger, dubbed the “Godfather of freestyle moto X,” touts the action in all three soap operas. (Rockmore said all three dramas are increasing the action quotient with the use of computer-generated imaging).

Other performers who have filmed spots include country singer Billy Currington, promoting the romance on General Hospital (“Soaps index strongly in the country-music world,” Rockmore said); Spice Girl Mel B, opining on AMC's female frenemies; Monk actor Jason Gray-Stanford, talking about the strong women on GH; and champion free skier Kristi Leskinen, plugging GH's younger characters.

All the spots are tagged “Everyone's Got Something, and I Have My [insert soap opera name here].”

A song called “Everyone's Got Something” by artist Nikka Costa accompanies the 30-second promos.

The five-week campaign begins July 28 on ABC and SoapNet. The networks also have made buys on networks including Bravo, MTV and Style, Rockmore said, and are placing ads in publications from InTouch to Seventeen and Country.

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