Battlestar Galactica: King of Prussia Mall Promotion

You Thought They Were Mad When They Made Starbuck a Woman, They’ll be Rioting When They See Headgehog as Apollo!

So here’s the low-down, about a month ago I saw a post on scifi.You Thought They Were Mad When They Made Starbuck a Woman, They’ll be Rioting When They See Headgehog as Apollo!
So here’s the low-down, about a month ago I saw a post on about a mall promotion for Battlestar Galactica. Of course the post was meant as TOSser troll could allege that this is another one of Sci Fi Channel’s “stealth marketing” practices. But what did I care, this gave me a chance to see a costume from the show, and help promote it!*So I entered the competition. I figured I stood a decent chance because I’m between 18 and 25, and I’ve got lots of BSG related knowledge. A few days later, I get an email saying that I’ve made the first cut, and they want my costume measurements and a head shot. I’m an engineering student, I could write everything I know about show costumes on the back of a postage stamp, and still have room left over. Luckily my brother is a drama queen major, so he was able to help me out with all the measurements. Fifteen awkward minutes later and a couple dozen numbers later and that was done. Next is the headshot. I don’t have a lot of digital nor recent pictures of myself. The least embarrassing picture I had was of me in my fencing gear. After a little clever cropping and a prayer, that too was done.

Then came the wait, and more waiting, and finally the loss of hope. The powers the be, were quick to let me know when I made the first cut, so when I hadn’t heard anything in nearly a week, I gave up. Nothing lost, nothing earned I suppose. Of course the next day, I get a phone call telling me that I won. YAY!

A couple more weeks pass, without hearing much from the promoters. I’m starting to notice a trend. With a few days to spare, I get another phone call giving me some of the details of the promotion; where to meet, times etc. I got to ask a few questions too, stuff like how many people, and what costume will I be wearing?

I had hoped to wear one of the officers uniforms. I really like those smart blue jackets. It turned out to be my other guess, a flight suit. Which don’t get me wrong, that’s just as cool, if not better, but I’m just a sadgeezer at heart.
They told me that I was the winner for the Philadelphia area, which came as a major surprise. I expected there to be more fan participating in the event. This got me a little nervous, because I really didn’t want to have to be the only schmuck in King of Prussia handing out DVD’s in a sci-fi show get-up. I’m not that socially out-going, and wouldn’t be the best choice for a solo pormotion campaign. But then I was informed that I would be joined by 9 other people.

Next I learned that I would be playing the part of Apollo. Cool huh? You can send flamemail to [email protected] now. They also told me not to shave for a few days. They want that beard growth that Apollo had in the first episode, 33. Each mall would have five sets of one Apollo and one Starbuck. Besides the general feeling of excitement, I was also a bit apprehensive about all this. I was going to be the only fan out of 10 people. The others were paid actors/promoters who might not have a working knowledge of the show. I thought it was a bit misleading to the public, but I got over that quickly.

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Finally after weeks of wait, Saturday January 8th finally arrived. I woke up at an ungodly hour, and drove out to King of Prussia to meet up with the other promoters at a discount family hotel. It was packed when I arrived. There must have been 20 people in this tiny room, all there for the promotion. It was then, that I realized that Sci Fi was not skimping on this promotion. This whole affair was much bigger then I ever thought.

Here’s the logistics. There were nine other costumed actors/models, 5 Starbucks and 4 Apollos. They got paid, I didn’t. I’m 100% cool with that, this was after all a most excellent experience. In addition there were also 5 guys wearing TV T-shits. I felt sorry for these guys. They had to wear a flatscreen TV on their chest, a battery on their back, and stereo speakers in their armpits. Oh and they had to listen to the same BSG trailer loop for four hours straight.

The idea was that the actors and myself would pretend to be Apollo. We’d have to role-play the character, we would BE Apollo. The actresses likewise would have portray Starbuck. The TV would stand there. Additionally the costumed people would have to hand out promotional DVDs and BSG jelly bracelets. Things never work out as planned, but I’m getting a head of myself.

While I was in makeup, the rest of the cast were being briefed about the promotion and the show. I already knew most of this stuff anyway, and chances are if you’re reading this, so do you. It had general information about the show, its plot and characters. Fortunately I was there, because the briefing was well brief, and not a lot of the information was retained. But again I’m getting a head of myself.

Here are some interesting facts about BSG viewers, based on Simmons Research:60% Male, 57% Single, Medium Age is 37, and HH income of $61,400/year.In the slightly more obvious category:gamers, movie watchers, TV addicts, highest cable, radio, internet and TV quintile.

Next it was time to suit up. We were all given our costumes. I was expecting show costumes, but instead we got Halloween Costume outfits. They’re still cool though. Wait scratch that, they’re hot. In fact I think some infernal being constructed them because they don’t let the skin breath, and it’s tight pleather. The boots we’re surprisingly not as bad as expected. I had the foresight to request larger then needed boots. I’m an avid Teva sandal wearer (including the winter) and don’t like constricting footwear. The regulars on the other hand got stuck with tight boots that made walking nearly impossible. While suiting up, I had to serve as a model for the others. Apparently one does have to be a rocket scientist to put on the jumpsuits. Most people were putting them on incorrectly. Not a huge surprise since nobody there had ever seen the show before. Some had never heard of it. And these were the people who had to sell it to the audience! I’d like to mention at this point, that there were several Star Trek-esqu jokes and the like made whilst we were suiting up.

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Soon after, we made it to the mall nearby. Yep, we were ridiculed on our way in. We had to wait in a common area for a little bit, while waiting for the TV T-shirt guys to show up. We took some group pictures for the customer (Sci Fi Channel) and soon thereafter we split up to canvas the mall.

We had 10,000 promotional DVD’s and Orange BSG jelly bracelets to give out in four hours. I did the math in my head, and that meant that I personally had to give out 1 set every 15 seconds. Easier said then done. The mall was relatively empty for a Saturday afternoon. Oh and have you ever tried giving stuff away, it’s lot more difficult then it sounds.

The TV guy, Starbuck and myself walked around the mall for about 15 minutes. I think we gave out about 20 sets of things. I only gave out a few DVD’s. Not only was the mall not busy, but my team-mates were much more charismatic then me, and gave people the items before I even started walking in their direction. I was beginning to feel impotent out there.

That wouldn’t last too long. once in a while, we would get someone who wouldn’t blow us off, and asked questions. The other two, didn’t have the answers. I did. Yay, I’m not useless after all. Sometimes I would run into another fan, and I’d give ’em lots of details. I also helped out the other two with their information, giving them the proper details, minor stuff such as air time, date and channel.

As I mentioned earlier, we were supposed to role-play these characters.

That lasted about 5 minutes. Most people wouldn’t even stop and take the items out of pity. There was barely enough time to tell them the time and channel for the show. Role-playing was even harder when my Starbuck kept forgetting her name. She would occasionally call herself Buckwheat. I was polite at first when giving her, her name. After about the 15th time, the aggravation was showing. I did manage to role-play out a couple times. Sometimes I even managed to get in some of the buzz words like “The World is Over, the Fight is Just Beginning”, and “The Cylons look like us now”.

This continued for about 3 hours or so. Luckily things picked up and I gave out more items. I walked around the mall more times then I’d like to guess, annoyed people in the food courts a few times, and switched up with promoter groups. We’d occasionally run into each other, and switch party members, sometimes by accident, sometimes to break up the tedium. We’d been all over the mall many times over, and over half the people there were wearing the orange BSG jelly bracelets.

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During this time I took a few short breaks. one of TPTB from Sci Fi Channel was there. She was very friendly, helpful and encouraging. I asked her a few questions, like what rating do they want for a second season. I was told that they sold the show at a 2.5 HH share, and want similar to renew. This wasn’t great news. 2.5 is much higher then any other series on Sci Fi. The Stargates average a 1.8. The mood however was confident. Somehow the episode downloading came up. This is a sensitive issue at the network. Some see it as an obvious threat. Other see it as a sign of confidence, that a lot of people want to see the show, and many think/hope that they will rewatch when the he show re-airs in the states. Here’s hoping. I also asked about Tripping the Rift, which will return for a second season. They aren’t sure when though, either spring or summer.

The last hour went much smoother. Mall traffic had picked up, and people were starting to approach us. I was really living it up now. I talked with many people about the new series, and fulfilled the reason I was selected to be at the mall. While the other people in costumes were handing out the promotional stuff, I was holding court amongst the sci fi geeks. We got a big influx of people when the guys at the Comcast cable booth, put up the promotional DVD on the wide screen HD TV. Oddly enough, people with a tv in their chest didn’t seem to get as large a reaction.*Time was really flying now, and soon 4 o’clock came. The rest of the promoters were eager to leave, but I would’ve stayed longer. Things were starting to get interesting for the me. But alas, it was back to the hotel to return the costumes. We all took off the costumes, which were wet rags by that point, and boots with moans of relief. I would have liked to have kept the costume, but Sci Fi Channel might need it again for another promotion, so I couldn’t keep it. However I was allowed to keep the promotional BSG backpack. Coolness, I needed a new backback too.

It was a great and fun experience, and I’m grateful to the Sci Fi Channel for allowing me to go out there and help promote Battlestar Galactica.


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Battlestar Galactica reviews and write-ups are © 2005 Ryan Bechtel
Not for reproduction without the authors express permission

Battlestar Galactica names, characters and everything else associated with the series are the property of Sci-Fi Channel, NBC-Universal and R&D Television.

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