May 27, 2014 1:57pm PT by Michael O'Connell
WE tv Takes Credit for 'Society for the Prevention of Celebrity Divorce' Billboard Stunt
The Society for the Prevention of Celebrity Divorce, sadly, does not exist.
Many Angelenos have seen mentions of the fictional organization over the past two weeks. Billboards and bus advertising pushing the philanthropic agenda of limiting the conscious uncoupling of famous duos started appearing around town in mid-May, but cable net WE tv copped to the campaign on Tuesday afternoon. The spots, which got attention from AdWeek, Cosmopolitan, LAist and several news telecasts, are part of a promotional campaign for Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars.
"I think when you're looking to create social buzz, too many people are anxious to put the punchline in too fast," WE tv president Marc Juris tells The Hollywood Reporter. "If you look at Jimmy Kimmel's twerking video, they let that sit out there for a while and go viral. I am a believer in patience and subtlety."
Juris let the billboards, five in total, do the work for themselves. After a few days, they started getting traction on blogs and a few TV shows. The network is now having the billboard edited to plug Marriage Boot Camp's May 30 premiere. Regardless of how it translates to viewers, it's already proven to be quite a cost-effective way of getting attention.
"Rather quickly people started reaching out with interview requests," says Juris. "Five billboards, not in the most prime locations, getting pieces on KABC and Fox News Channel … it was great return on investment."
The new installment of Marriage Boot Camp, a series which puts fraught couples in the same house for therapy treatments, focuses on reality stars. Jenni "JWoww" Farley and Roger Mathews (Jersey Shore), Trista and Ryan Sutter (The Bachelorette), Gretchen Rossi and Slade Smiley (The Real Housewives of Orange County), Traci Braxton and Kevin Surratt (Braxton Family Values) and Tanisha Thomas and Clive Muir (Bad Girls Club) are among those signed up.
The East Coast got their own viral promo over the holiday weekend. WE sent airplanes down the New Jersey shore trailing banners that read, "JWoww isn't here."
As for the Celebrity Divorce campaign, the debunking also means that the face of the billboards, J. Robert Butler, isn't real either. In fact, the actor who signed on to be the face of the stunt has been married four times.
"My favorite is 'Marriage is a commitment, not a sponsorship opportunity' -- that played very well this weekend," adds Juris, pointing to the well-timed celebrity nuptials between Kim Kardashian and Kanye West. "We want producers to know that we will market their shows in very creative ways."