'Project Runway' is back... Didn't you hear?

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Project Runway kicks off its fifth season on Bravo next Wednesday, July 16. But do people even know to tune in? In past years, the lead-up to a new cycle of Runway came with an onslaught of publicity: constant on-air promos, posters and billboards every which way you turn, and print ads galore. But this time, there’s been a noticeable dearth of promotion for Bravo’s No. 1 show. Sure, there have been television commercials and the occasional print announcement, but the usual plastering of New York City buses and subways, for instance, has been suspiciously absent.

During an interview last month for an EW feature about the controversy currently surrounding the show — namely, that it’s heading to Lifetime starting with cycle 6 this fall — Bravo General Manager Frances Berwick told us that the scaled-back publicity this time around was a matter of maintaining the contestants’ anonymity. The show won’t finish the bulk of production until Sunday, July 13, just three days before Wednesday’s premiere. If they made promos that revealed the identity of the designers while episodes were still shooting in New York, there could be leaks. “We don’t want any spoilers,” Berwick said. “The show is so high profile. People look out for [the contestants]. We don’t want the cast out there because anyone who sees them out and about will know that they reach a certain level in the show.”

While that argument makes sense, Bravo could simply have whipped up billboards that feature host Heidi Klum (pictured). But they haven’t. Some people suspect that Bravo is trying to sabotage the show before it heads to Lifetime next season — a way of getting back at producer Harvey Weinstein for taking away their banner hit. A source at Bravo called that theory “ridiculous,” and added, “Why wouldn’t we want Runway to do well on our network?” Moreover, the source said, on Monday, July 14th, Bravo will be releasing not only the names and faces of all 16 designers from the upcoming season 5, but also some of the guest judges and challenges. “People will be complaining we’ve given them too much information!”


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  • Ceballos

    I don’t usually like to get into conspiracy theories involving sabotage (it doesn’t really make sense for Bravo not to want people to watch the show while it’s still airing on their channel).
    However, the whole “we don’t want to promote the show too much because we don’t want to reveal who the contestants are” thing is total BS. Like the article mentioned, you can build a great ad campaign around Heidi Klum. You could also defintitely throw in some Tim Gunn, and even some Nina Garcia or Michael Kors.
    I’ve written episode recaps for this show for the past two seasons, and I needed this entry to remind me and make me realize that the new season premieres in less than a week. That’s not good.

  • Rasha

    I kind of hate PR for jumping networks and don’t really care about it anymore. I do think the lack of promo is strange, but why invest money in the promotion of a show that’s already a hit and will be on a new network next year.

  • Tommy Marx

    Bravo invested in the show when Lifetime could care less. Once it became a big success, suddenly PR decides to spit in the face of the network that championed it and go over to Lifetime. I don’t need an ad campaign to remind me that I won’t be watching the show anymore.

  • Patty

    I didn’t know it was coming back until I saw it in my “Programs to Record” on TiVo. How sad is that? I hope it is good this year, I am kind of worried that they aren’t promoting b/c they are missing the total wacko that reels people in. Bring the crazy please!

  • Corinne

    There’s ads constantly on Bravo. I guess I don’t live where there were billboards and bus ads for it, since I’ve never seen those.

  • jaime

    OMG WHO WILL EVER REPLACE CHRISTIAN. . . .THATS WHY THEY ARE NOT PROMOTING! THERE IS NO WAY ANYONE WILL EVER BE ABLE TO BEAT THAT LIL MAN!
    BUT THANKS FOR THE REMINDER…im writing it on a post it to get it back on my DVR!

  • Kana

    Now we know that Christian Siriano’s blogging alias is ‘jaime’.

  • Susie

    I LOVE CHRISTIAN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! And all the other Season 4 people, Sweet P and Chris, they all just rock!! I can’t wait for Season 5, but how will the new designers ever be able to live up to it?!?!

  • duranmom

    It hasn’t been promoted in the same way that past seasons have but that doesn’t mean that my DVR isn’t set and I’m practically jumping out of my skin for the premiere.
    Every season I think the new designers can’t “top” the ones from before, but they do — in their own way. I’m looking forward to the great competitions, plenty of drama and lots of artistry (or not…) going on.
    Bring on the new season with the new cast. I’m sew ready. ;)

  • nykolus

    i can’t wait for the premiere, but the whole thing is giving me a bad feeling…

  • Jelana

    I do feel like this is the last season for Project Runway. I’ll be there while it’s still on Bravo, but I suspect the show will be a pale imitation of itself next season on Lifetime.

  • Em

    I like Project Runway, but I’m not sure I like it enough to become a Lifetime Channel watcher. Ugh!

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