It’s Time Marketers Rethink Their Commitment to Content

January 19, 2017  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Eighty-six percent of B-to-C marketers in a recent study say they will be including content marketing in their budgets this year. That makes plenty of sense because it's no secret that as consumer attention scatters across channels, devices, times and places, simply hammering people over the head with paid advertising is becoming harder to do. Adam Kleinberg The word "content" means something is more than an ad. Content implies value—perhaps utility, education, empowerment or entertainment. Regardless, content is powerful for brands because a value exchange is at play. The more value brands put in, the more value they get out—in currencies of attention, intention, loyalty, and ultimately, sales. Of course, content has very little value if it sucks. In fact, if your content marketing is lousy, it can actually hurt your brand. Doing content marketing well requires commitment on many levels. The same Content Marketing Institute (CMI) study mentioned above shows that 90 percent of the organizations deemed "most successful" were characterized as "extremely committed" to content marketing. That's compared to 37 percent of such commitment from organizations classified as "least successful." "We're committed," you might be saying, "We've allocated budget and a team to getting this done." Good on you. However, there are a number of dimensions of commitment that need to be attained to maintain a content marketing operation that delivers high value for your customers and your brand. Commitment to Insight It is trite to say, "quality matters," but what kind of content actually is good content? Too often the output of content marketing programs is a fire hose of crap across every imaginable channel that people don't actually want.

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Will Millennials Care About The CW’s ‘Archie’ Spinoff?

January 18, 2017  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

As they try to break through the Peak TV glut and grab viewers, broadcast networks have been relying heavily on new shows based on popular intellectual property (IP), like Lethal Weapon, MacGyver and the upcoming Training Day and Taken. But The CW's new drama Riverdale—based on the Archie Comics characters—offers the season's most intriguing test as to whether IP can truly help launch a show, even if its intended audience will likely have very little knowledge of the source material. Riverdale, which premieres Jan. 26, finds Archie, Betty, Veronica and Jughead entangled in racy storylines miles from the world of the squeaky-clean comics book, which launched in the '40s. The premiere episode alone features a murder, a hush-hush student/teacher affair and dark secrets galore. "It's an interesting conundrum: the IP builds awareness, but if you're then changing too much of the DNA, are you risking pushing the audience away?" said executive producer Greg Berlanti, who was intrigued by the opportunity to mine the originality of the characters, which had made the Archie comics so successful. "What was interesting to us was how much can we bring it into a new generation." While The CW's marketing campaigns for its other series based on comic books characters, including Berlanti's shows Arrow, The Flash and Supergirl, relied heavily on consumers' awareness of those characters, its Riverdale campaign doesn't reference Archie at all, aside from a few subtle Easter eggs. "We assumed that everyone we're reaching doesn't know who Archie is," said Rick Haskins, evp, marketing and digital programs. "Thank goodness we have the experience of [former CW hit] Gossip Girl; we know how to do these sexy, gossipy, pop-y things. That's really the playbook we're pulling from: more Gossip Girl than DC Comics." To that end, as he looked to reach women 18-34, Haskins created five major spots, all featuring popular music. The campaign includes buys on musical.ly (the popular music video social network for tweens and teens), and for the first time ever for a CW show, VOD, to target the millennial audience on their preferred viewing platforms. Despite the marketing campaign's millennial focus, The CW president Mark Pedowitz argued that the Archie brand does have some value to viewers. "The importance of the IP was it gives you a hook and something to tag it with; it started a dialogue that Archie was coming back," said Pedowitz, adding that The CW's audience isn't as young as one would guess: its linear median age is around 43 (though its digital median age is 20 years younger than that). He expects at least some old-school Archie fans will be intrigued enough to give Riverdale a try.

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Marketers Will Be Tempted to Dial Back Their Diversity Under Trump. We Can’t Let Them

January 16, 2017  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

"Frankly, I have yet to engage in a direct action campaign that was 'well timed' in the view of those who have not suffered unduly from the disease of segregation. For years now I have heard the word 'Wait!' It rings in the ear of every Negro with piercing familiarity. This 'Wait' has almost always meant 'Never.'" Edward Bowser Those words were penned by the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. on scraps of paper nearly 54 years ago while he sat in a jail here in my home city of Birmingham, Alabama. Sadly, those same words could have been typed on a blog last week and still be just as relevant. Today, we celebrate the legacy of a man whose work has become the embodiment of racial harmony and inclusion. In four days, we will witness the induction of a president whose campaign was steeped in division and exclusion. Call it a dream deferred. As President-Elect Donald Trump's rise to power ran parallel with the nation's growing civil unrest, pundits quickly invoked MLK's name whenever they were shaken from their comfort zones

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Gus Fring Was Behind That Clever Los Pollos Hermanos Ad for Better Call Saul

January 15, 2017  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

When AMC's Breaking Bad prequel Better Call Saul returns for Season 3 on April 10, the show will feature another familiar face from Breaking Bad: ruthless drug lord Gus Fring, played by Giancarlo Esposito. AMC teased Esposito's appearance last week by releasing a clever ad for Los Pollos Hermanos—the fictional fast-food fried chicken chain that Fring operates as a drug front—featuring Fring himself, which caused Breaking Bad fans to lose their minds. Esposito confirmed his return at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour in Pasadena, Calif., when he appeared in character as Fring during AMC's panel for Better Call Saul, and handed out boxes of Los Pollos Hermanos chicken to reporters. The actor told Adweek that he came up with the idea for last week's pitch-perfect Los Pollos Hermanos spot himself. It's been gestating for years, Esposito said, since he first appeared on Breaking Bad in 2009. "I always say it was divinely guided, because it came out of a meditation. I always knew from the time I first started working at Pollos Hermanos that there might be some juice in doing something that was centered in the restaurant, that was commercial-like," said Esposito. "But when I thought of it earlier on, with Breaking Bad, it just didn't fit" with that show's dramatic tone. The idea resurfaced again as he began filming Better Call Saul. "It came back to me two or three weeks ago, and I thought, this is the perfect way to tease a Gus Fring return. Because this show has some comedy in it. It's a little funnier than Breaking Bad was," said Esposito. But still, the actor hesitated to share his vision with the show's co-creators Vince Gilligan (who also created Breaking Bad) and Peter Gould. "We're dealing with Sony [which produces Saul] and Vince Gilligan, who's a genius, and AMC, and I thought, 'Will they ever accept that idea? And then I thought, it doesn't matter whether they do or not, it came to you; put it out there!' So I did, and I even guided them as to what it might look like." Gilligan and Gould were on board. "We loved it, and fortunately, AMC decided to make it," said Gould. "We just sat back and enjoyed it." Added Gilligan, "I thought that was brilliant.

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Without Game of Thrones, HBO Will Rely on The Young Pope and Murderous Moms

January 14, 2017  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Every spring since 2011, HBO has been able to rely on the new season of Game of Thrones and the audience surge that show provides. Last year, Season 6 helped the series become the network's most-watched series ever, with an average of 25 million viewers on all platforms. But the streak ends this spring, as the production rigors of Season 7 have required HBO to delay the show's return until summer. Instead, HBO is hoping to fill the dragon-sized gap in its spring schedule with programming from a slew of A-listers, including Reese Witherspoon, Robert De Niro, Jude Law and music industry icons Jimmy Iovine and Dr. Dre. Actors and producers from those shows met with reporters today at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour in Pasadena, Calif. Up first is the limited series The Young Pope, starring Law as the first American Pope—and yes, the youngest one—in history. The show, which premieres Jan. 15 is "more than a meme on Twitter," said HBO miniseries and Cinemax programming president Kary Antholis, referring to social media's recent obsession with the title. Law said that until he began doing press for The Young Pope a week ago, he was "completely unaware of what a meme was." Now that he has seen a sampling of the Young Pope memes, "I love them.

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AOL’s New 360° and Live Video Studio Is a ‘Physical Embodiment of Native Advertising’

January 13, 2017  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

Imagine designing one building that could accomplish this two-part mission: First, make one of the oldest digital brands cool once again. Second, secure the future of branded content. Has such a building been created? Time will tell, but that's certainly the hope of Build Studio, AOL's flashy new mini-concert destination and content creation hub. This week, the Verizon-owned media company officially opened Build, a 13,412-square-foot studio in lower Manhattan that will become the stage for all sorts of interviews, performances and events shot both live and with 360-degree video.

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Why 2 Agency Creatives Launched ‘Not This White Woman,’ an Anti-Trump Clothing Line

January 13, 2017  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

If you were disappointed with how certain demographics voted in the 2016 presidential election, you're not alone. Freelance copywriter Michelle Hirschberg and Droga5 group creative director Karen Land Short found a way to channel their frustrations with fellow white female voters, who supported President-elect Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton by a 53-43 margin last November and contributed to his surprise victory. The duo made clear that they were decidedly not part of that group with the launch of Not This White Woman, a clothing and merchandise line featuring the slogan. Smaller font below reads, "#StillWithHer." "Normally, of course, we'd want to be inclusive of all races in any product that we make, but because these aren't normal times—because right now racism and white supremacy are on the rise—and because white women played a key role in this election, speaking out as a white woman specifically here feels necessary," said Hirschberg and Land Short. All profits from the sale of Not This White Woman merchandise will be donated to Planned Parenthood, which has seen a spike in fundraising since election night.

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Why CBS Is Airing Its First Saturday Drama Series in 13 Years

January 13, 2017  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

For decades, Saturday was an essential component of each broadcast network's prime-time schedule, but in recent years the networks have thrown in the towel on the night, which has the week's lowest HUT (homes using television) levels. That includes CBS, which for years has programmed two hours of drama repeats—called Crimetime Saturday—and newsmagazine 48 Hours to fill the evening. But this winter, CBS is doing something it hasn't attempted in 13 years: airing an original drama, Ransom, on Saturdays. The series, about a crisis and hostage negotiator who tackles kidnappings and ransom cases, is a Canada-France co-production, from independent studio eOne, and cost CBS a fraction of what the network usually spends on its dramas. "We're always looking for opportunities to improve the numbers on the schedule," said CBS Entertainment president Glenn Geller. "Crimetime does just fine, but we had a unique opportunity with Ransom, because it was an international production, and we said, let's see what we can do on Saturday nights." Traditionally, "The night is the last priority for most networks as you're setting your schedule," said Kelly Kahl, senior evp of CBS Primetime. While CBS has used Saturdays to burn off remaining episodes of canceled shows like Made in Jersey and Three Rivers, the network hasn't scheduled dramas on Saturday since the 2003-04 season, when Hack (starring David Morse and Andre Braugher) and The District (with Craig T. Nelson) aired on the night. More recently, CBS tried airing a comedy on Saturday, programming the David Spade sitcom Rules of Engagement there in 2011. But the network abandoned the experiment after just a few weeks, shifting Rules to Thursday to replace the DOA sitcom How to Be a Gentleman (which was burned off on, yes, Saturdays). Because CBS audiences responded to freshman fall series Bull, Kevin Can Wait, Man With a Plan and The Great Indoors, "we're sitting pretty good the other nights of the week," said Kahl. "Every night of the week counts, and as you look at your weekly numbers, an hour on Saturday counts exactly the same as an hour on Monday. So we saw an opportunity there for us." CBS gave Ransom a Sunday launch on Jan. 1, where it drew 6.7 million viewers, and a 0.8 rating in the adults 18-49 demo. Last week, in its first regular airing on Saturday at 8 p.m

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As a Producer, Bryan Cranston Knew the Best Way to Save His Pilot Sneaky Pete Was to Act In It Himself

January 12, 2017  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

When his iconic TV series Breaking Bad went off the air in 2013, Bryan Cranston wasn't looking to dive back into another series role. But in May 2015, when CBS passed on Sneaky Pete, the drama pilot he had co-created, co-written and executive produced, Cranston knew there was one surefire way to help the show find a second life: hire himself as an actor on the show. His instinct paid off: Amazon (and its viewers) loved the retooled pilot— significantly improved by the addition of a riveting scene with Cranston in the closing moments—and gave the show a series order. The full season, one of this year's most anticipated shows, debuts on the streaming service Friday, with Cranston appearing in all 10 episodes (he also directs an episode). Sneaky Pete stars Giovanni Ribisi as Marius, a con man who has just been released after three years in prison, where his cell mate, Pete, talked incessantly about his idyllic childhood. On the run from Cranston's Vince, Marius decides to assume Pete's identity and hide out with his family (including Margo Martindale as his grandmother), who run a struggling bail bonds business, and haven't seen Pete in 20 years. The tension escalates after Vince tracks down Marius, and threatens to remove one of his brother's fingers each week until Marius repays his debt. Cranston told Adweek that Sneaky Pete refers to his family nickname growing up. "I was raised in a lower income household, with a fractured family: I didn't have a father in my life when I was 11 to when I was an adult, and my mother become an alcoholic," he said. "What happens is you start to self-parent, and you're making mistake after mistake and just weaving your way through, looking for shortcuts," Cranston said. "So my family was even calling me Sneaky Pete: a guy who was looking for shortcuts. A guy who was circumventing responsibility and striving for mediocrity. That's fine when you're in that condition, but at some point, something has to break." It did for Cranston in his early 20s, when he embarked on a two-year motorcycle trip and realized he wanted to be an actor. When he accepted his fourth and final acting Emmy for Breaking Bad in 2014, Cranston dedicated his award to "all the Sneaky Petes out there." The day after the Emmys, Cranston received a congratulatory phone call from Sony Pictures Television co-president Zack Van Amburg: "He says, 'I think there's a series there: Sneaky Pete.' I said, 'What's the series?" And he goes, 'I don't know! But I do know this'—and he left me with this little nugget—'What happens if you didn't mature and change when you were 20 years old

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Fox Sports CEO Says Super Bowl Ratings Have Become ‘Bulletproof’

January 12, 2017  |  Media Week  |  No Comments

While NFL ratings were down across the board this season, the team putting together Super Bowl LI on Fox don't expect any spillover when the game is finally played on Feb. 5. "The Super Bowl has become a little bit bulletproof," and is more reliant on the star power and matchups rather than the quality of the gameplay itself, Fox Sports president, COO and executive producer Eric Shanks said at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour in Pasadena, Calif. He noted that when Fox last broadcast the Super Bowl, in 2014, "it was not close from the opening snap." The Seattle Seahawks blew out the Denver Broncos 43-8. Shanks said he "dreaded" waking up the next morning and seeing the overnight ratings. Instead, "we set a record with that Super Bowl, but it was not close at all." That 2014 telecast was watched by 112.2 million viewers. Last year's telecast, Super Bowl 50 on CBS, was the third most-watched U.S. telecast of all time , with 111.9 million viewers. The 2015 Super Bowl on NBC drew 114.4 million total viewers. As for Super Bowl LI ratings, "it's hard to predict. The Super Bowl is now dependent on the playoffs: certain teams and how long it's been since they've been there, that really dictates whether we're at the upper end of the Super Bowl range or the bottom end of the range of modern Super Bowl ratings," Shanks said. No matter what the final ratings are, well over 100 million viewers will tune in, which means that the pressure is on Shanks to get everything right. "It's a lot more pressure because you want to make sure that you've planned for everything that could go wrong," like the power outage during the 2013 Super Bowl, said Shanks. "There's a lot of pressure because of the economic impact to Fox on that day and all the things we need to deliver perfectly for the advertisers who are investing in that day. And we also have pressure on ourselves, that we walk away thinking that we told the stories in the right way that we want to tell." Shanks noted that Fox's NFL ratings were down six percent this season, the second lowest total in recent years behind 2012, which was also an election year. "Clearly, this unique election cycle had an impact," he said. Fox's innovations for Super Bowl LI include technology that for the first time ever, take fans inside the helmet of any player on the field and show the game from their perspective. The cameras won't actually be affixed to each player's helmet, but Fox's crew will be able to simulate their perspective from cameras around the stadium. With under a month to go, Fox Sports has a handful of Super Bowl slots left , and is asking north of $5 million for a 30-second spot.

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