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November 14, 2009

Television Preview – Not what it seems…

Tags: , commercials, focus groups, kim raver, soulmates, television, television preview, TV

Tonight, my wife and I were set to participate in what we were told was a preview of TV content to be shown nationwide.

The presentation was put together by a company called “Television Preview.”

It was NOT what we expected.


We were instructed by the tickets to arrive at the hotel by 7:30pm for the 7:45pm program start.  When we got in line at 7:20, there were at least 120 people ahead of us.

Red Flag #1 – A well-dressed man in his mid-20s came out to inform us that the program would last until 10pm.  We were going to watch two TV pilots and answer questions about them.  If we started, we would have to stay for the entire time.  There would be no food, just water.  The chairs wouldn’t be comfortable.  The strangest part, though: he told us that he would NOT stay,

We stayed in line, entertained by the chatty young woman behind us telling tales of her “douchebag ex-boyfriend” that keeps re-friending her on Facebook after she de-friends him.  Oh, the drama!

Another slick-dressed man reminded us that we would have to stay until 10pm, without food.  He was very excited about the door prizes, though.

We grabbed our folder of information and found two seats in the middle of the room.

Red Flag #2: The cover of the first pamphlet was a form for contact information, to be used for the door prize drawing.  However, the inside portion was much more interesting, as each page had 8-10 similar products, like combs, tissues, chocolate candy and chewing gum – different brands, shapes, package and sizes were all included.  We were instructed to circle the one we TRULY wanted.

The second man who greeted us was the host for the evening.  He seemed very outgoing, if somewhat slimy, which wasn’t unexpected.  A natural charisma capitvated most of the 200 people in the audience.

The first order of business was the ground rule – basically, keep your opinions to yourselves, so everyone could judge

Thank you for being a friend, Rue. Television Preview was all about the ads.

the “TV pilots” fairly.

Second, the contact information forms were collected and a little show took place where a guest was chosen to select randomly three door prize winners (with more promised to come later).

Red Flag #3 – My wife peeked at the post-viewing materials, which had more product selections.  There were also images of “stars” of the show, with a VERY old photo of former “Golden Girls” star Rue_McClanahan and a barely-recognizable young Kim Raver.

Our host reminded us that we were about to watch two shows, commercials and all.  We were going to start with a drama and finish with a comedy.  I assumed they would ask us questions after viewing BOTH programs, but that wasn’t fully explained.

He told us again that we were watching TV pilots, which are used to test potential new TV shows.  The drama, he explained, was part of a 3-chapter mini-series that took place in different times.  Of course, the first section was in the late 1980s or early 1990s, with additional scenes coming from World War II.

Well, the program started, and there was Kim Raver, but 15 years younger than she is today!  I pulled out my Blackberry and Googled the show’s title “SoulMates.”  Turns out that it was a made-for-TV movie…from 1997!

Not ready to spend a Friday evening watching horrendous “new” programming, we left 3 minutes into the show.  We demanded to have our parking paid for.  My wife said that it wasn’t hard to get the stamp…the people knew exactly what they were running, so they knew we were probably the first of many to leave early.


Here’s the thing – if they had been up-front about testing commercials and found some old programming to surround it with, maybe we’d be more apt to stay.

However, we felt deceived by the event.  You don’t promise a TV pilot and show a failed TV movie from a decade ago.  That’s just wrong.

I’m sure many people stayed for the duration.  The event was well-run…it was fun, it was different, it was energetic.

After re-reading the text of the flyer, they TECHNICALLY were correct, stating that they were testing new TV programming (consider anything you watch on TV as a “program,” even ads) for a nationwide audience.

I hope the advertisers get the information they wanted out of the session tonight – my wife and I weren’t upset…we thought it was funny!  We went home and watched a movie.  With no commercials.





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