Fan Campaign

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Synonyms: letter writing campaign
See also: Fan army
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Fan campaigns aim to influence decisions by TPTB. The are usually fan run.

A fan campaign may aim to stop the cancellation of a beloved show, bring back a particular character or release a cancelled show on DVD.

This can be in the form of letter campaigns, organizing fans to buy billboards, ads in the industry publication "Variety," coordination in sending items to TPTB such as black roses [1], hashtags, and many more creative actions to get fans engaged in order to bring attention to their cause.

Another kind of fan campaign was raising funds The Hollywood Walk of Fame.

The original Star Trek fan campaign for renewal is probably one of the best known in the everyday world. It has inspired active and vocal cultures in many fandoms to protest pending cancellations and production values in their favourite sources. Another well known fan campaign took place in 1976, when Star Trek fans were credited with convincing then-U.S. President Gerald R. Ford to name the first NASA space shuttle orbiter after the starship Enterprise rather than Constitution as he had planned.

Examples of Fan Campaigns

See Category:Fan Campaigns & Petitions.

Sample Images

See Fan Campaign/List.


Some campaigns were conducted on the personal level. Here a fan-made button reads: Bring my show back. It was most likely worn to conventions and fan gatherings. Since so many shows have been canceled over the decades, the generic button could be reused again and again.

Fans write letters to TPTB because they feel very strongly about some aspect, and sometimes emotions and tactics overtake manners and commonsense. Fans are often told, by other fans, to practice the tactics for successful letter campaigns, ones that include politeness, logical arguments, and a dearth of fannish over-wroughtness [sic].

For an example of a letter, see these detailed instructions.

See one example of fans discussing the effectiveness of a 2000 fan campaign at Fan Rebellion.


It is impossible, aside from anecdotal comments, to gauge the success of the various letter and fan campaigns over the years. Information from the industry is most likely spotty and not reliable. Fans themselves were hopeful, but unsure.

Star Trek

One Star Trek fan wrote: "I'm really proud of the fact that I was one of the ones who wrote in when Bjo Trimble asked all the viewers to send letters asking NBC not to cancel the series after the second season. Maybe my letter made a difference, maybe it didn't, but I like to think that I helped to make the third season happen." [3]

It is widely believed that the third season of Star Trek's original series was created due to fans' various letters and activities. Due to this triumph, Star Trek fans also waged numerous campaigns to alter plot points in the show (more McCoy, no dead Spock...) with varying degrees of success.

Regardless of the eventual outcome, reactions to letter-writing campaigns were not always positive and not always seen in a positive light by those on the receiving end. Some TPTB felt them intrusive, bullying, something that took up valuable time and money, and more a nuisance than anything.

At least in one instance, a Star Trek: DS9 actor counseled fans to tone it down as their pleas to bring a character back to the show (after he'd been killed) was a turn-off: "The one thing I can say with fair certainty is that Vedek Bareil will not be back again. I am so sorry. There was apparently a letter-writing campaign to the writing department and as a result of that, he's definitely not coming back again. The writers were going, "this is enough, we don't want any more of this." So I would suggest a different tactic, if you were one of those people writing letters...a less vitriolic tactic, because they're really actually nailing the coffin shut right now, because of these letters. Because at the end of the day, they have the power to do that."

Joan Marie Verba also addresses this issue: "At Lunch with the Doctor, Sid [Alex Siddig, who played Bashir] confirmed what I also heard from another source at Paramount, and that is, that the producers/writers were thinking of bringing back Vedek Bareil, but due to receiving so much hostile mail on the subject, they have made a firm decision not to. Now, I am aware that many fans who want Vedek Bareil back wrote perfectly courteous letters, but apparently some did not, and, unfortunately, those letters were the ones that irritated the producers. So please remember: if you write to Paramount about Sid/Julian, or write with concerns about fourth season, be polite, be calm, be courteous!" [4]

Beauty and the Beast

See Fan Fervor and Dead Roses.

When a Beauty and the Beast (TV) fan sent her letter to CBS in 1990, she included a screw as a metaphor... "Enclosed you will find an example of how we, the fans, feel we have been treated by you, the writers, this season." -- from The Whispering Gallery #18/19 (March/April 1990)

The letter and other fan campaigns in Beauty and the Beast (TV) were intense and highly encouraged by the celebrities and showrunners themselves, and fans in turn constantly encouraged other fans. Addresses of sponsors, television stations, and other venues were almost a mainstay of fan publications. One example from March 1989:

The production staff at Beauty and the Beast, asks that you write and/or call your local CBS affiliate (the station that you watch Beast on) to show support for the show. Especially, let them know when you are mad about local preemptions and switchs in time. It would help to let them know that you appreciate the show, and support the local advertisers (if any). [5]

In September 1988, George R.R. Martin relayed an idea to the editors of Beauty and The Beast: The Newsletter:

Why don't you do a poll of your membership? Have everyone vote on their three favorite episodes, and their three least favorite episodes, use a point system and publish the results. The totals could be fascinating, and would give us writers an interesting measure of what the fans respond to...

In April 1989, George R.R. Martin told a fan:

...that renewal still is 50/50. He said that he is staying optimistic and encourages everyone to keep writing, especially to Kim LeMasters. Should the show not be renewed, he said syndication/cable continuance would depend on (with the cost of production) a cost-effective deal being made quickly, as the cast and crew cannot be held but for a short time before they move on to do other things. [6]

But despite this constant fanning of fan energies and fears, fans were also told these letters and calls were ineffectual. This was something that was stated very early on. In February 1989, Ray Faiola of CBS told fans:

...organized letter-campaigns do not have an effect because usually they identify themselves very easily and they really cancel themselves out as far as according a certain weight to the volume of mail. [...] there is definitely a broad distinction between people writing in individually and in organized campaigns. What doesn't carry a lot of weight is organized campaigns. They call attention to themselves immediately, as cleverly disguised as they may often be (laughter) — we've been in this business too long. Unfortunately, the enthusiasm of the relative few seldom outweighs the inevitability of the majority (of the many) out that we then pass along to our there in Neilsen land.[7]

This was echoed later by George R.R. Martin. In In 1992, a fan asked Martin if Beauty and the Beast (TV) was brought back because of fans' letters and letter campaign.

We want to know how it really was....what's the truth?

Well, some of the fans... I see letters from them about how they saved the show at the end of the second season, and got them to order twelve, by writing letters or something like that, and of course, some of them feel that we betrayed them by then killing Catherine, or coming back differently. That's not the way it was. I mean, I appreciate the fans. They did a lot of work, they contributed a lot to the show. But I was there. The decision to not put us on the fall schedule and the decision to order 12 shows as a mid- season replacement was made the same day. Tony Thomas called me up, I was at home, and said 'They're not ordering 22 but they've ordered 12 as a mid-season replacement and they'll put us back on the air when the first slot opens up.' It was made in the same meeting. It wasn't like we were off and the show was dead and then all the fans got together and they wrote millions of letters and they poured in and CBS said 'Well, okay, we'll order 12.' That's not how it happened.

Didn't happen that way? See, you're exploding a fan myth. Well, the fans won't like it. (laughs)

Well... it won't be the first time or the last. [8]

Negative effects of fan campaigns

Well to be honest with you, I was already in discussions about something on – it wasn’t The Mandalorian – something Star Wars-affiliated,’ Lawless said.

‘It might have hurt me in some way, because then they couldn’t hire me because it would seem to be pandering to… I’m just guessing here, I don’t know anything, but in some ways, it can be unhelpful, because if they pander to this fan group, then how are you going to pander to every other fan group, do you know what I mean?

The actor continued, outlining how the hypothetical fan casting meant that she ‘became political’, despite having nothing to do with Carano’s exit.

I became political and I had nothing to do with the discussion, she said.

Nonetheless, she feels extremely appreciative of the fans who saw her as the ideal replacement for the character.

But that’s the way the world is and they meant it out of love, and I thank the fans for their fealty to me, she said.

I haven’t thought about that since, so it hasn’t given me any pain, but that was my thought at the time, like, ooh, this makes me look like a political appointment, and not an actress.


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