In a marketing stunt tied to this Thursday’s return of the hit Eye comedy, the season opener of “Ghosts” is being showcased in the middle of the night at venues in Los Angeles, Savannah, Ga., and Portland, Ore., but to empty seats. Instead, CBS is inviting actual ghosts to view the show — mortals be damned.
“We are using social media and we’ve got some mediums and some other folks that we’re using to put the word out to people who are not amongst the living, to stop by any of these theaters and attend the screenings,” says CBS chief marketing officer Mike Benson.
And that’s what they’re actually doing, including switching out the marquees and showing the episode in the middle of the night at the El Rey, the Wiltern, the Fonda, the Orpheum and the Million Dollar Theater in Los Angeles (most of which are classic L.A. theater haunts built in the early 20th century and most assuredly already have a few ghosts living there). In Savannah, the screening is at the Trustees Theater, and in Portland it’s at the Cinema 21.
“[The theaters] love it because they’re bringing an audience in at times that aren’t competing with other living audiences,” Benson said. “They also really appreciate that there’s really essentially no wear and tear to their buildings whatsoever. The overhead costs are pretty low. The downside is that there’s really no concession business whatsoever.”
CBS, of course, is paying admission fees for any ghosts who wander in, by covering the theater rental fee.
“I haven’t received a lot of feedback yet, we understand it’s hard to get the data around the attendance, because there’s no real way to track it,” Benson added. “So the only way to track it is through hearsay through mediums. So but what we’re hearing so far is that non-living people love it.”
Benson credited his team for coming up with the idea. “It just kind of goes back to the idea of how can we be authentic and this is something that I think only we could do for this show,” he said. “And so we’re doing it and we’re excited about it. We just think it’s a lot of fun. And pardon the pun, it’s in the spirit of the show.”
For livings barred from the theater screenings, “Ghosts” returns Thursday, September 29, at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.