Canada channel takes show on road


TORONTO -- Oxanna Cpin happily reclines on a couch with popcorn in hand to watch her favorite TV show, "G-Spot," on a giant wall-mounted flat-screen.

It was a fast dash, as the 19-year old Toronto retail clerk nearly missed the season premiere for the homegrown comedy about Gigi, a B-movie actress played by Brigitte Bako ("Red Shoe Diaries"), and three girlfriends bedding porn stars and Hollywood movers.

"I love Gigi. She acts like a porn star might, except every guy she goes out with cheats on her," Cpin giggles.

But what makes the scene noteworthy is this is not Cpin's living room.

She is instead seated in an Emergency Viewing Station, or a 28-foot trailer outfitted with three TV screens and couches by Showcase, Canada's drama cable channel. The idea is that fans of Showcase's weeknight 10 p.m. dramas who are too harried to be home for fall season premieres can view them on the road.

Sara Moore, senior vp marketing and publicity at Showcase parent Alliance Atlantis Communications, says the marketing stunt aims to illustrate how her network's fall 10 p.m. lineup is TV that can't be missed.

"You need to do whatever you need to do to be on your couch at 10 p.m.," Moore says of the message behind Showcase's marketing campaign.

The souped-up trailers will be out on the streets of Toronto and Vancouver from Aug. 29 to Sept. 10 to hype season premieres for popular U.S. cable dramas "Weeds," "Rescue Me," "The L Word" and "Six Feet Under," as well as "G-Spot," a Canadian-made drama.

Besides traditional on-air promos, other marketing tactics include distributing dashboard signs that tell other drivers to pull over to make way for Showcase viewers speeding home for 10 p.m., and fake traffic violation tickets placed on car windshields after dark telling people they should be home to catch Showcase dramas.

To illustrate obsession for its lineup, Showcase's print and TV ad campaign depicts such comic bits as medical surgery suddenly broken off, or a businessman leaving a lap-dancer barely beginning her strip tease so that he can be home by 10.

Showcase is hardly new to guerrilla marketing. Last year, the network arranged free cab rides so fans of its programming could ensure they'd be home by 10 p.m. for the fall premieres.

Back in the trailer, Cpin insists watching the trials and tribulations of Gigi and her thirtysomething friends gives her a sense of what it takes to get to the top, and to stay on top, in Hollywood.

But Chris Webster, a Toronto subway driver and another "G-Spot" fan visiting Showcase's mobile trailer, has a different take on the steamy comedy.

"I just watch for the babes," he smiled.