Tonight on Heroes, H.R.G. asks Mohinder, "Are you on the list?"
First there was "Save the cheerleader, save the world." Now we have, "Are you on the list?" But the current catchphrase for NBC's Heroes (returning from hiatus tonight at 9 pm/ET) could just as easily have been, "Peter is the bomb." That's what Vince Manze suggested. As president and creative director of the NBC Agency, the marketing firm that handles Heroes, Manze is responsible for the show's attention-grabbing slogans.

"I brought up the idea of ‘Peter is the bomb' at a group meeting, and it got lots of laughs," recalls Manze. "Then I said, ‘Hey, I'm serious!' It didn't fly." Since the slogan was due to hit the air in December, when Heroes was moving into six weeks of repeats, Manze also thought of a Santa Claus tie-in — something along the lines of, "Are you on my list?" That didn't fly, either.    

This, after all, is a weird and delicate science. With Heroes returning this week opposite new competition — Fox's 24 — the right catchphrase was mandatory. Manze also needed to grab the young male audience that was suddenly freed up by the season-end of ESPN's Monday Night Football. To that end, "We previewed a trailer of scenes from future episodes of Heroes at the Philadelphia Eagles/Dallas Cowboys game on Christmas Day, and handed out 10,000 ‘Are you on the list?' T-shirts," Manze says. 

Manze also created a 13-minute promo featuring mini-profiles of the Heroes characters, which appeared on NBC.com, iTunes and Netflix.com. "The spots explain why the list is so important and how all these people with extraordinary abilities are going to meet each other," notes Manze. "We're conveying the idea that these characters are more powerful together than they are apart." Adds Manze's brand manager, Jennifer Sprague: "The goal was twofold: to keep the core Heroes audience intrigued over the long break, and to assure potential new viewers that the show is not intimidating, that it's possible to get on board midway through the season and still enjoy the show." Also helping viewers play catch-up over the holidays were Heroes marathons unspooled on NBC.com, Bravo and Sci Fi Channel.

Hankering for some "preview"? Expect yet a third promotional slogan to be served up before the season wraps: Heroes will air original episodes into early March, then take a five-week hiatus and return mid-April for its freshman year's final six hours. Hints Manze, "Now we're asking the questions, ‘Who are these people? Why were they chosen? What is their mission?' The final phase of the season will be the mission itself."  

Are you on the list... of Heroes fans itching for scoop? Keep an eye out for the TV Guide cover story hitting newsstands this week!

Tag along with TV Guide Channel's The 411 as they hit Golden Globes after-parties with Heroes Greg Grunberg and Hayden Panettierre. Click here for days and times.

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