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Interesting Marketing Gimmick

I just got a letter in the mail today purporting to be from the “Johnson Reunion Committee” out of Atlanta, GA. I know my grandfather’s sister lives somewhere in Georgia so it wasn’t entirely surprising to see that address. The letter follows the break as does my comments


Hi to all y’all Johnsons out there,

Now, I know what a lot of y’all are thinking: “Brenda promised not to miss two family reunions in a row.” But I’m stuck in the tar pits of Los Angeles again this year. So…everyone at the reunion will just have to make do with Mama, Daddy, my brothers, two sister-in-laws, three nephews [sic] and two nieces once again this year.

I hate these impersonal mass letters, but I figure it’s the best way for me to catch all of y’all up at once. For those of you who don’t know, I moved from Atlanta to LA last year to serve as the Deputy Chief in charge of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Priority Murder Squad. It seems that I’m doing so well at my job that I’m now on a TV show called THE CLOSER on TNT. Watch and tell me what you think about my new hairdo. The premiere of my new show is on Monday, June 12 at 9 p.m. (that’s 8 p.m. in Central) on TNT and they’re showing it with no commercials.

They have a different lifestyle out here in California: a little too laid back for my taste. And they tend to slow down some when they talk to me (I guess because of my Georgia accent and all). But the weather’s really nice, and I’m starting to make friends. I feel like I’m finally “getting into the groove,” to use one of their silly LA sayings. And, yes, they do say “Dude,” a lot. It drives me nutty.

Even though I’ve been a little lonely at times and there have been a few more work challenges than I anticipated, it’s a highly rewarding job. Not to toot my own horn, but I’ve been coaxing a lot of confessions out of suspects in the interrogation room. After watching me close case after case, I think the LAPD is glad they hired me.

Some of the folks here had a hard time accepting me at first, but I think they’re starting to get used to me. A few of these darn detectives could irritate the horns off a billygoat with their chauvinistic comments, but overall I think we’ve got a good team. I’m really proud of the work we’ve done.

In other news, I haven’t talked to Hart since we divorced, and I’m back to proudly usuing the Johnson family name. I also have a new cat named Kitty. Oh, and please don’t tell my Mama, but my FBI agent boyfriend asked me to move in with him. (Heaven knows what I’m going to do about it, but I thought y’all should know.) Don’t forget to watch “The Closer” this summer and let me know how you think I’m doing out here. Log on to tnt.tv to tell me what you think.

Hope you eat a big helping of Momo’s banana pudding and Aunt Valerie’s pecan pie for me. I miss y’all to death!


Brenda Leigh Johnson

So it looks like the marketing folks at TNT did a mass mailing to all Johnson’s. I don’t know what their scope was, but except for a few details that kept me rereading the letter I would have though I had a distant relative that was an actress on The Closer.

Of course there were a few things that tipped me off that this was a gimmick. Mainly that the writer says they took a job with the LAPD but now they’re going to be on The Closer, a fiction TV show. The second thing that got me was that the writer says the detectives treat her like she’s stupid because of the southern accent. That is probably the only thing I remember from seeing promos late at night while watching X-Files. Finally, a quick IMDB search confirms that “Brenda Leigh Johnson” is the main character on the show played, by Kyra Sedgwick.

I wonder how many people are going to come into work Monday morning and tell their co-workers they have a relative on a TV show 🙂


About James

I am a Senior Developer/Consultant for InfoPlanIT, LLC. I previously spent over 7 years as a Product Manager for what eventually became ComponentOne, a division of GrapeCity. While there, I helped to create ActiveReports 7, GrapeCity ActiveAnalysis, and Data Dynamics Reports.


10 thoughts on “Interesting Marketing Gimmick

  1. I found this because my mother in law called. She is a Johnson by birth and her sister in law got this letter. She said she did not know of a Brenda Leigh Johnson and neither did her sister in law and they also did not know of a family reunion in Atlanta. She wanted me to check up on this as they are all big on family history! The letter is exactly the same. Thank god I did not spend hours trying to find info on this. Thank you for this report. Genie

    Posted by Genie | June 14, 2006, 8:52 pm
  2. i got this letter too. i figured it was an elaborate advertisement, so i did a quick search on “johnson reunion committee” and found your site. kudos

    Posted by jordan | June 17, 2006, 5:56 pm
  3. Oh my Goodness. I live in Virginia Beach Virginia and We are hosting our ’06 Johnson Family Reunion here. My Aunt and Mother are telling me that we have an actress in our Family and she plays on the closer (Brenda Leigh Johnson) as the Deputy. I looked at the same letter from above. Now I say I know for a fact that Kyra Sedgewick plays that character and none of this adds up. When did we have a realative that was a famous actress since the 70’s or 80’s? I looked and saw that Kyra was born in New York and our Family originated from South Carolina. They repeatedly stated that this had to be true. I’m glad I looked and had my doubts before they went to work and stated their claims.

    Posted by Tisha | June 17, 2006, 7:46 pm
  4. OK, I read it twice before I found your website. As I pondered this letter, my thought process touched on the image of thousands and thousands of Johnsons filling a stadium to celibrate the gathering of every Johnson on the planet, hosted, of course by an extremly wealthy Johnson, or maybe Ted Turner, who’s trying this unique aproach to boost his network’s ratings. Anyway, the letter got my attention!
    Terry Johnson

    Posted by Terry Johnson | June 19, 2006, 12:34 am
  5. Too funny….they got me too ya’ll. Some genius in the TNT marketing department got a promotion over this….what a shmuck!!

    Posted by Felicia Johnson...of course | June 19, 2006, 6:40 pm
  6. Well, think of my suprise, when a cousin asked me if I knew a Brenda Johnson who sent my Aunt a letter about a reunion and a tv show, being that I do have a cousin Brenda Johnson from Atlanta. I happens that I’d lost touch with her about 2 years ago so when she told me about the letter I’m thinking to myself, “Oh, Brenda moved to LA and is a Deputy Chief?!”. How, hilarious!

    Posted by Weltha | July 18, 2006, 9:06 am
  7. I am a Johnson by marriage and we received this same letter. My husband’s family has a reunion every year. It is a rather large family so of course he bought into this. One thing that tipped me off was the bulk mailing postmark on the envelope. That and the fact that is said it was coming from Georgia but the envelope was marked Tennesee. Good job TNT.

    Posted by cheryl | July 29, 2006, 11:53 pm
  8. My husband is also a Johnson. His Mom and Dad received the same letter. Is is really a shame cause they have stressed their brain trying to figure out who’s daughter she is. They have a reunion almost every year.

    Posted by Lisa | August 28, 2006, 11:38 am
  9. It was almost a year after my father, Alvin Johnson, died and we became
    aware of other children he father that I rec’d you letter about a Johnson
    family reunion. We have been trying to contact and form a relationship with as many familty members as possible so your letter was accepted with much joy. Admittedly, the thought of vacationing with my sister & her movie star friends in LA fueled much of my enthusiasm. In the middle of my fantasy, however, common sense kicked in and forced me to watch your show for the very first time. I became aware of the character’s name verses the actor’s name, the generic addressing of my envelope and so forth. My sharp investigate skills brought me to the conclusion that this must be some kind of publicity stunt. Yet I still had hope that somehow it could be true, after all, we even had similar investigative
    skills. It took awhile, but I can laugh about it now. My family insists on
    telling this story at the REAL family reunion and it would just be poetic justice if I could parade you out there and shut their mouths in mid-laughter. The stunt worked because I am hooked on your show and wish you much sucess and longevity. Love always, Sis

    Posted by Alvina Johnson | September 1, 2006, 10:15 am
  10. Hey there – Check out the new video from The Closer that was just posted on the TNT site today.

    Enjoy! Here are the links:




    Posted by jrunibuzz | June 18, 2007, 5:00 pm

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