CBS prepares a hyped 'Raymond' finale

MUMBAI: US broadcaster CBS is rolling out an aggressive multi-platform marketing and publicity campaign to support the finale of its sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond. In India the show airs on Star World.

The show signs off on CBS with its 210th episode on 16 May.



The multi-layered effort includes a vote on for viewers? all-time favourite episodes; on-air tributes by celebrities; promotion on Viacom's radio and cable properties; extensive co-marketing with CBS?s 200-plus affiliated stations; and special Raymond-themed content on the special CBS Eye on America.



The final episode will be preceded by a one-hour special featuring behind-the-scenes footage, highlights from the show?s nine seasons and interviews with the cast. On 13 February during the Grammy Awards on CBS, viewers were alerted to vote on for their all-time favorite episodes. The five receiving the most votes will then be broadcast on CBS in consecutive weeks, beginning 28 February with the fifth most popular and culminating with the all-time fan favourite on 28 March.

Meanwhile a media report states that the show's final episode has been sold to advertisers for $1.3 million per 30-second spot. At $2 million per 30 seconds, NBC's 7 May 2004 telecast of the Friends finale still holds the record for the unit rate of a regularly scheduled prime-time series, followed by the $1.6 million per 30 seconds NBC averaged for the final Seinfeld telecast in 1998.

On 28 April, CBS and series producers HBO and Worldwide Pants will host a major red carpet finale party to kick off the final three episodes of the series. Cast members from the show as well as celebrities who have been fans of Raymond over the years will be in attendance.

CBS' 200-plus affiliated local stations will provide a package of spots focussing on great moments in the shows history and other show highlights to the stations to customize locally. In addition, CBS has produced a tie-in guide resembling a Barone family photo album, which is full of ways that stations can promote the finale locally.

The guide includes loads of Raymond trivia questions for local contests (including a list of guest stars from actor Kevin James to basketball great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar). There are also multiple concepts for other types of contests such as Everybody Loves A Mother And Daughter-In-Law Cook-Off -- in the tradition of Marie and Debra -- between mothers and daughters-in-law with a local restaurant chef acting as judge.

Besides on-air, CBS will take its Raymond promotions to the air. Moments on American Airlines in-flight programne CBS Eye on American. CBS Eye on American is seen by millions of travelers each month and has aired full episodes of Ratmond since 1998.



Also till May, cast members from the series will appear on several of the leading daytime and late night talk shows, including Late Show with David Letterman, Live with Regis & Kelly, The View and Ellen, On 16 May the cast will appear together in New York City for one last time in a media blitz that will start on the CBS ?Early Show? and culminate on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange when the cast of the show and CBS chairman Leslie Moonves ring the closing bell.

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