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Advertising Lessons From The Bluths: There’s Money in the Banana Stand
By: Tom Roarty
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One of the biggest perks about living in New York City as a creative is the exposure to some of the world’s greatest advertising promotions. Such is the case with last week’s perfectly orchestrated campaign by Netflix for the newest season of “Arrested Development.” In an effort to promote the return of the award-winning cult classic, one of the show’s most memorable symbols, the Bluth banana stand, was erected in Midtown.

Having been a fan of the show since its inception in 2003, I, like many others, was crushed when the program was removed from the Fox lineup in 2006. “Arrested Development” was somehow lost in the cracks during its first incarnation and never made the water-cooler buzz that may have kept it going, but realizing the demand for the continuation of the sharp-witted comedy, Netflix resurrected the show some seven years after its last episode, and in doing so, developed some concepts to promote it as cutting edge as the program itself, starting with the banana stand. In the original series, the banana stand was a common thread among most of the characters. It symbolized the introduction to the business world and its corrupt temptations that built the dark comedy’s reputation.

When the banana stand hit Midtown, it only confirmed the popularity of the show as fans stood in line from Sixth Avenue to Seventh Avenue down 49th Street to get close to the icon, which is currently in the midst of a world tour. After waiting on the long line, fans had a chance to do their best chicken dance, which was an ongoing show bit and will be used for the program’s social-media promotions, and receive an “Arrested Development” poster. Everyone that asked for one also received a “Mr. Manager” sticker, which displayed the Netflix logo and also has a direct tie to the show’s evolution. However, did the promotion, which was heavily flocked to by the “Arrested Development” faithful, do enough to attract a larger viewing audience?

Only time will tell how successful the tour was once Netflix measures its viewership numbers, but having been there firsthand, I can say the spectacle raised plenty of awareness. Aside from seeing a flood of people wearing the promotional “Mr. Manager” stickers blocks away from where the actual event took place, for the half hour that I personally was at the location, I was approached by three different groups of people who couldn’t help but ask, “What is going on here?” It was after the second couple I had filled in on the activities that were taking place that I realized the promotion was a success in raising awareness for the show. Not only did I have the opportunity to explain the generalities of one of my favorite all-time comedies and what the return of it meant to me thanks to the gathering caused by the promotion, but so did the many people waiting on the line to be close to the banana stand. If the old saying “the best form of advertising is word of mouth” rings true, then this promotion was not only a success from an advertising standpoint but from a conceptual one as well, proving that yes, there is money in the banana stand.

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