Commentary: The Initial Marketing Of ‘The Orville’ Was A Failure

It is arguable that the way in which a show is marketed is even more important than its content. Marketing is what projects the identity of the story out into the world. Sometimes, a story has merit and branding based on history. This happens with high profile directors, writers, and long-standing franchises such as Marvel or Star Wars. But in terms of new properties, the general public has no idea what type of story to expect, and so the marketing is extremely important in order to attract the proper audience and communicate what a given story is all about. And a great failure in that regard is The Orville.

Before it premiered, the show was marketed largely towards Seth MacFarlane‘s reputation as a comedy writer. And not just any comedy writer, either. MacFarlane is known for writing raunchy comedies such as Family Guy and the R-rated movie Ted. So that’s how The Orville was largely portrayed in its initial marketing campaign on Fox: a Family Guy-like sitcom set on a spaceship. Surprisingly, though, anyone who has watched the first episode will tell you that the marketing message doesn’t describe the show at all.

Instead, the series is a lot closer to a 21st century version of the original Star Trek. The stories focus on ethical questions raised through sci-fi plotting and characterization. The themes are strong and the comedy is largely downplayed. Since MacFarlane is the creator, comedy is certainly involved, but it’s not the driving force behind the show. It’s a work of thought-provoking science fiction through and through, and the marketing campaign failed to drive that point home. The Orville has survived largely in spite of this failure of marketing. It is a great sci-fi show, and word of mouth in the community kept it alive. They were the ones to course-correct the misconception the show’s marketing created. But looking back, The Orville can be used as a case study in how a network can fail to properly market a series.

The Orville is currently streaming on Disney+.

It is arguable that the way in which a show is marketed is even more important than its content. MarketingCOMICONRead More

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