Chuck Me Mondays: The inside scoop into a fan campaign that isn’t about to let up
Given my line of work, I’m all about attribution. So while I’m not shy about jumping on the Chuck Me Mondays bandwagon — like I plan to do starting Monday Tuesday after my Monday viewing — I have to give credit where it’s due.
If you’re a Chuck fan with any online aptitude at all, you’ve probably spent some time at ChuckTV.net and its forums. The last several weeks have been a whirlwind over there, from the Finale and a Footlong campaign to the 15 days of waiting (that lasted only 14) for renewal news.
Just because Chuck‘s coming back and there’s a good nine months to focus on other things doesn’t mean things have settled down for this Buymorian province. Chuck Me Mondays was borne of “great minds think alike” origins in which folks did some simple math: 35 Chuck episodes + 40 weeks to kill = a great way to keep up the buzz, send the network a message and wile a way a hiatus.
So I checked in with two of the fans who were there to get the scoop on what it’s all about. Kansan Melissa “Mel” Lowery is well known to listeners of Chuck Versus the Podcast while Magnus Anton Lekay, from just down the road in Lodi, N.J., is the familiar “DarthRazorback”at the ChuckTV.net forums.
So how exactly is this supposed to work?
Mel: The concept is simple: at a given time – Mondays at 9PM ET – fans are encouraged to watch the Chuck episode of the week through whatever means they have available (DVD/Blu-ray, iTunes, Amazon, DVR, theWB.com). A post at ChuckTV.net will be available for fans to comment as they watch, plus a list of fans on Twitter will be provided for additional discussion. Basically we’re putting together a huge viewing party that, thanks to the Internet, is not restrained by geographic limitations.
DR: The goal, at least from my perspective, is a) to maintain awareness of the show during the next 9 months b) to keep those who mobilized during the Save Chuck effort still motivated c) to keep Chuck and Mondays in the minds of potential viewers via Twitter d) to gain media awareness so that this effort can grow and e) to utilize the potential success of this effort to promote other Chuck related campaigns throughout the life of the show (such as the Have A Heart fund raising effort).
So how did the idea for Chuck Me Mondays come about?
Mel: The idea for Chuck Me Mondays originated from fan suggestions at ChuckTV.net (email, comments on the blog, forums). We were fine tuning the idea when DarthRazorback suggested adding the Twitter element as another way to keep buzz going. We’ve already had success using Twitter during the renewal campaign, so it’s a logical extension to continue using Twitter for our own nefarious deeds.
DR: The idea initially started for me in a Skype chat room that was set up for the ChuckTV.Net forum users. A forum user named Richard was talking about watching the entire series during the wait for season 3 and I suggested we all view it together, while on Skype. We had already used Skype for some fan commentaries, so this was a natural evolution of that. However, as I thought more about it, it dawned on me that we should include everyone in this idea, including all those who had participated in the Save Chuck campaign on Twitter. That was quickly followed by the thought that we could trend a specific topic each of the nights we watched, elevating the overall awareness of Chuck around the globe, and keeping the show fresh in the minds of people during this long wait for season 3.
When I brought this idea to the forum, Mel indicated that she too had considered a similar idea. After that, we tossed around a few ideas and the best possible time for the maximum amount of people to participate, and the idea was fully realized within a day or two.
What message do you hope this sends the execs at NBC?
Mel: We hope this will provide Chuck fans with an outlet for all that energy that was built up during the renewal campaign, and show NBC (and the media) that we’re not done supporting Chuck simply because we’ve been given our third season. The ultimate goal is to build a fan base for next season that ensures NBC greenlights a fourth season without needing a fan campaign to convince them. It’s about working smarter, not harder. Also, it’s an excuse to watch the episodes again and discuss them in glorious, nitpicky detail.
DR: The only message I hope NBC receives is in cold, hard numbers. Specifically, increased ratings in season 3 that result in a full season pickup and a fourth, fifth, and maybe even a sixth season.
What kind of response have you gotten so far?
Mel: So far the response has been 100% positive. Fans have embraced the idea and marked their calendars. Many are responding with comments like, “I’ll be there with my Subway sandwich,” which is a wonderful example of how much the renewal campaign resonated. Subway should be happy to know that fans are continuing to support their company, even after we were able to declare our (first) mission accomplished.
DR: The response from the fan base has been great. As with the Save Chuck campaign, the Chuck fans are proactive and dedicated. They are not willing to sit by and wait for someone to promote the show for them. I think that is why this show will survive where other “saved” shows did not. We will not rest on one battle won. We want to win the war.
What do you make of the way fans stepped up to fight for their show?
Mel: It’s been heartwarming to see how many people love Chuck and are willing to go to bat for it, to keep it on the air. I’ve been continually impressed with the fan dedication and the fan intelligence on display during the renewal campaign. We wanted to run a campaign that was smart, that showed the network and the media that we understand that this is a numbers game not a popularity contest. The fans “got it” right away and as a result, we have our third season. Now we’re moving on to the next phase of what we hope will be continuous fan participation in supporting the show.
DR: The hardships of life are easier to take knowing that Chuck, Sarah, and Casey are somewhere out there, ready to make us laugh, cry or cheer for joy. People like to dismiss entertainment as not being all that important. But in the darkest of times, people have always turned to it as a way to decompress. That is why the USO is so important for the armed forces. People need relief. Chuck is the best mental medicine for the stresses of life. We refuse to let it die.
You have one chance to give the brains behind Chuck one bit of advice that they’ve promised to take. What do you tell them?
Mel: “Keep the show accessible.” I wouldn’t presume to tell Fedak & Schwartz anything specific regarding storylines because what they and the writers come up with is always much better than anything I could imagine. I’ll leave the details to them! Instead, I’d say stick with what’s working: characters that are genuinely likable and plotlines that let us get to know them in the midst of the action, drama, comedy and romance. And an aside to Scott: More Jeffster!
DR: If the show runners were to give me one bit of input into the show, it would be simple: put Chuck and Sarah together, in the same way The Office put Jim and Pam together[Ed note: Awesome point!], and play on the troubles of having a real relationship in the spy world. The fans will watch even if those kids are together for 10 seasons. It will not get old. Unlike watching them not be together for 3 more seasons. That may already be old. And that would be my only complaint about the show.
Chuck Me Mondays banner courtesy of ChuckTV.net