'Mars' fans target new viewers one library at a time

On May 9, 2006, fans of Veronica Mars hired a plane to fly a banner supporting renewal over the UPN offices in Los Angeles and The CW headquarters in Burbank. The stunt garnered a lot of attention from network executives and the media—its intended effect—but not many outlets reported on the real core of the fan campaign: the VM DVD Drive for Libraries.

As of August 22nd, the day Season Two of Veronica Mars is released on DVD, fans have donated over 400 sets of the show's first season on DVD to libraries in all 50 states and in all of the Top 100 Nielsen markets.

Veronica Mars creator Rob Thomas began his career as a Young Adult fiction writer, so public libraries were a natural choice when fans began to work on gaining new viewers for Mars. By donating to public libraries, fans have been able to support a worthy cause while also introducing their favorite show to anyone with a library card.

Fans funded the campaign by donating money through PayPal or by buying fan-created Veronica Mars-inspired merchandise from the Cloud Watchers shop on Cafe Press. Others purchased DVDs directly and sent them to libraries on a targeted list. Campaign organizers were smart and followed the sales, but at a list price of $59.99, the retail value of these donations is just under $25,000!

All 275 libraries were researched and contacted ahead of time to make sure the donations would be welcome additions to the existing catalogue. Librarians, many of them fans of the show, have been enthusiastic and appreciative:

"French Lick (IN) is a small, rural community in the poorest county in the state, But we have a community that loves the library. 'Veronica Mars' will be watched by MANY 1st timers. What you and the others are doing has given me something to smile about. Thank you!"

"Many thanks for the great donation of Season 1 to the Sacramento Public Library. We've added all 3 new copies and Veronica is flying off the shelf! We appreciate it, and hopefully it will create a gang of new fans!"

Fans involved in the VM DVD Drive for Libraries are banking on it! And they aren't finished yet. Their goal now is to reach a total of 500 sets by October 3, 2006, the day the third season of Veronica Mars premieres on the new CW network.