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NBC's valuable drama 'The Blacklist' gets magazine, billboard, online marketing deluge

This advertisement released by NBC shows a mock magazine cover featuring James Spader in character as Raymond Reddington from the NBC series

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This advertisement released by NBC shows a mock magazine cover featuring James Spader in character as Raymond Reddington from the NBC series "The Blacklist." Spader, will be featured on 11 mock magazine covers, on billboards and online, to promote the network's top drama before its Sept. 22 return. (AP Photo/NBC)

LOS ANGELES, Calif. - With TV viewers awash in choices, how can a network bolster a freshman hit's chances of repeating its success in year two? Plot a marketing extravaganza that's nearly inescapable.

For NBC's top-rated drama "The Blacklist," the network has devised a promotion and advertising campaign that will put the show and star James Spader front and centre on billboards, faux magazine covers and online before its Sept. 22 return.

Various images of Spader as master criminal Raymond "Red" Reddington will decorate the mock covers on the flip side of 10 magazines, including the August or September issues of Vanity Fair, Rolling Stone, Wired and the New Yorker. Playboy will feature a "Blacklist" cover ad fronting the issue out Tuesday, NBC said.

Among the eye-catching fakes: the back of the men's magazine GQ, re-labeled BQ, showing a sharp-dressed Spader with a headline that pays homage to Reddington's style: "The Blacklist of criminal chic: fedoras, trenchcoats & more."

The network declined to put a price tag on the campaign, but its pull-out-the-stops approach makes sense. "The Blacklist" was among the reasons NBC finished the 2013-14 season as No. 1 among advertiser-favoured young adult viewers for the first time in a decade.

"The size and scope of this campaign speak to both the importance of the series to NBC and the creative ways in which we can get that message out," said Len Fogge, president of marketing and digital for NBC Entertainment.

Megan Boone, Ryan Eggold, Diego Klattenhoff and Harry Lennix co-star in the drama about Reddington's mysterious relationship to a novice FBI agent (Boone) that has made him an unlikely partner in stopping the world's foremost bad guys.

The show already has gotten serious love from the network, which gave it the January 2015 post-Super Bowl slot — a chance to introduce it to TV's largest audience and garner new fans. That placement comes after "The Blacklist," which debuts Monday, Sept. 22, moves to a Thursday home in February.

One thing the network can't boast about: the show's Emmy Awards cachet. Both "The Blacklist" and Spader, a three-time best-actor Emmy winner (for "Boston Legal," ''The Practice") were overlooked for major nominations at the Aug. 25 ceremony as cable dramas once again dominated.

Also part of NBC's marketing plan:

— Murals of Reddington created by six artists will be displayed in busy areas of major cities and made available to view online.

— One-liners by the darkly droll Reddington will be set to the rock tune "Back in Black" and played from morning to late night on NBC and on sister cable channels that are part of NBCUniversal.

— Los Angeles and New York billboards will feature the magazine cover campaign, with other billboard displays nationally.

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Online:

http://www.nbc.com/the-blacklist

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Lynn Elber is a national television columnist for The Associated Press. She can be reached at lelber@ap.org and on Twitter at http://twitter.com/lynnelber.

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