/// How CNN Sells Breaking News

February 15, 2013  |  Media Week

CNN took plenty of heat yesterday for its extensive coverage of Carnival’s ill-fated “Poop Cruise”—upon losing power in the Gulf of Mexico, the cruise ship Triumph transformed into a drifting hellscape of overflowing toilets, food shortages and sickened passengers—prompting at least one Twitter wag to dub the network’s 4 p.m.-7 p.m. block The Shituation Room with Wolf Blitzer . (We’ll see how the wall-to-feces-spattered-wall coverage translates in the Nielsen ratings, when the numbers arrive later this afternoon.) This all raises an interesting question from an advertiser’s perspective: when there’s a big story that captures the world’s attention—whether it’s a ship where life is imitating Lord of the Flies or the inauguration of an American president—how do you cash in? Obviously, a known quantity is the easiest to sell. “The inauguration was very cool, because it was more than a political event,” said Greg D’Alba, Turner’s president of news and digital ad sales (D'Alba spoke to Adweek shortly before the Super Bowl). “It was a style event and a fashion event and a culture event.” That’s an easier pitch than something like yesterday’s disaster, which perhaps may have been a proper fit only for the likes of Clorox. And for President Obama’s second public swearing-in ceremony, D’Alba had a range of clients lined up, including the financial services giant Black Rock, home security system Tyco and DreamWorks’ 12-time Academy Award nominee, Lincoln .


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