Just like the American sitcom from which it’s adapted, follies, obsessions and neuroses are the ingredients that spice up new Argentine comedy Loco x vos, based on Sony Pictures Television’s classic comedy Mad About You.
The show premiered on Argentina’s Telefe, both a network and a production company, on Monday, September 5, at 9:15 p.m.
Julieta Zylberberg plays Helen Hunt’s character, Jamie, while Juan Minujín plays Paul Reiser’s character, Paul. New York is replaced by Buenos Aires, and the everyday elements of the plot are steeped in the flavor of Argentina’s capital.
According to Dario Turovelzky, head of programming, acquisitions and promotions at Telefe, the network has a track record of successfully adapting American sitcoms, including Casados con hijos (Married… With Children) or La Niñera (The Nanny).
Before betting on Loco x vos, Telefe researched American sitcoms for two years, looking for exactly the right one to appeal to the Argentine public. Turovelzky believes it is an advantage that “local audiences, which are family oriented, are also used to watching daily comedy series, where both the characters and their situations are quite universal and relatable.” However, “all aspects must be adapted to the region.”
“We started by outlining the characters, seeing their features, attributes and obsessions, and [making sure] that all these could be recognizable by the local public,” says Turovelzky.
Some 10 minutes were added to each of the 65 episodes, since the original 22-minute format was too short for the channel’s programming schedule. This meant doing twice the work, because a subplot had to be added for each chapter. Finally, and as part of the adaptation, Telefe decided not to film on location.
The process included Sony Pictures Television, which owns the show’s rights, Telefe’s content team, and the actors and the directors all working together “with many rehearsals and corrections on the set, something that is quite unusual, to avoid any extra word that is out of line,” says Turovelzky.
The pre-release campaign juts marketed Loco x vos as a new primetime show without mentioning that it was a remake of a successful program. Even so, the team tried to “recapture the soul of the original version, such as the relationship between the main characters and the world surrounding them,” says Leandro Rosenzveig, head of promotions at Telefe.
“Our work centered on making local references to our culture and idiosyncrasy, as well as taking into account the incorporation of different situations that relate to the current times, such as cell phones, personal beauty or the use of the Internet,” he says.
Incorporating modern elements, such as couples using social media to communicate, has been key, according to Turovelzky.
“In a couple and in cohabitation, if you do not include a social network like WhatsApp you are missing out. So we had to adapt to how people interrelate today.”
The concept that encompasses all the pieces centers on Nati and Pablo, the main characters in the story.
“Thinking about them, we looked for universal problems shared by couples,” says Cecilia Souto, head of image and visual communication at Telefe. “We wanted to focus on everything that surrounds romantic sitcoms, but drawing up ideas targeted at the entire family.”
For example, in the following pieces the protagonists criticize their respective in-laws’ gifts or can’t come to terms when planning their day.
“We work on the component of love and on recurring elements that make couples laugh about themselves. We create humor from situations that can be real. But, in this case, we take them to the extreme,” says Souto.
A comical romanticism clearly comes to life in the look and feel of the logo, which is “friendly and familiar,” designed “for all audiences,” she adds.
The logo’s palette is composed of bright red, green and yellow, with contrasts and round shapes that appeal to the big heart of the plot; a relaxed, crazy and funny love story.
Turovelzky adds that when thinking about the logo’s iconography, “we realized that the word “por” (about) was somehow disturbing. The strong concepts for us were in the terms “loco” (mad) and “vos” (you). So we decided to abbreviate “por” with a cross” (The multiplication sign “x” is pronounced “por” in Spanish).
The campaign kicked off two and a half months before the premiere, with a series of social activations that included very short editions with some sitcom gags that were released without a date or context, creating buzz as the public tried to decipher what was coming down the line.
“Nobody knew where this product was going to be launched,” says Rosenzveig. “[The promos] quickly went viral; a vox populi effect was generated with significant activity on networks.”
The real on-and off-air campaign began one month before the release, with special promotions, clips, teasers, advertisements, trailers and outdoor promos.
“The goal was to introduce each of the characters with their own features. We conceptually thought always of the family as the recipient of all the couple humor,” explain Rosenzveig and Souto.
There was also a countdown under the theme “follies” with short clips that explain little delusions of the main characters.
Finally, around 120 scenes were exclusively edited in “capsule” format and uploaded daily on networks. Social activations expanded to include animated gifs that recreate the WhatsApp messages the protagonists send to each other and a line of short videos with a focus on the couple’s dog.
At the same time, there was the support and active participation of the leading actors and other stars of the channel, who helped drive the campaign by sharing the different promotional elements on their own accounts.
With such a plethora of on-air, off-air and online marketing, from clips and teasers to creative social strategies, the campaign to launch Loco x vos marks the first time Telefe has published so much exclusive content prior to a premiere on digital platforms.
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