ABC hopes to stir up viewer memories of watching Roseanne in the 80’s and 90’s, continuing a trend of nostalgia-driven marketing within the TV industry.
To promote the sitcom’s upcoming revival, a New York City commuter train has been made to look like the Connor family’s famous living room. Running between Grand Central Station and Times Square, the subway car features seats that resemble the Connor family’s couch, complete with an afghan over the back. Family portraits hang on the walls and each end of the car is made to resemble a fireplace. Promotional images wrap the exterior of the train.
While subway advertising is an effective way to reach millions of commuters in New York each day, not all campaigns are so well-received.
Amazon fell under scrutiny for decorating a subway car with Nazi imagery to promote The Man In The High Castle in 2015. Subway commuters in New York were surprised to find one car decked out with a Nazi version of the American flag, as well as a stylized flag inspired by imperial Japan. Residents were so disturbed by the imagery that Mayor Bill de Blasio requested they be removed and Amazon complied within hours.
In October, Fox Sports decorated a subway car that called the New York Knicks players Tim Hardaway Jr. and Joakim Noah “hopeless.” Complaints from the team’s owner resulted in the ads’ prompt removal.
Responses to this activation have been positive on Twitter, where ABC spread images of the train and invited commuters to share their own experiences with the activation. Fans were nostalgic and excited for the show’s March 27 return.
Oh, sure, make yourselves right at home 😒
— Roseanne on ABC (@RoseanneOnABC) March 2, 2018
Nostalgia also seems to be inspiring much of TV network strategy lately, from Will and Grace to Gilmore Girls and The X-Files. As cord-cutters spend less time on traditional TV programming, networks are falling back on what worked in the past by bringing back fan favorites. The rise of OTT services costs networks billion in lost ad revenue, according to estimates, so networks are competing to host the next—or return of—” must see TV.”