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    « Ads Getting Social | Main | New math for Newspapers »

    November 15, 2007


    David Reich

    Saw this today at, a TV trade e-letter. They invited students to write pieces for them, and here's one from a senior at University of North Alabama.

    Strike Strategies Take Center Stage as Everyone Settles in for The Long Haul
    By Pat Howard, Senior/University of North Alabama, Major: English - Professional Writing

    The studios, the writers, the media and even viewers seem to be gearing up for a lengthy strike. There's already been talk of the major networks reaching into their cable stables and cherry-picking popular programs to pad out prime time once the short supply of fresh scripted programming is finally exhausted.

    But they would do well to borrow more than repurposed programs from their cable cousins. There are also some valuable programming strategies to be mined. For example, MTV's gay-oriented network Logo knows how to make its programming stretch.

    In recent months, Logo has run encore seasons of some of its original series, including Noah's Arc and The Big Gay Sketch Show. These reruns are dressed up with bonus material such as deleted scenes, an incentive for viewers to watch old episodes again.

    NBC employed a similar tactic with reruns of The Office this summer, but in that case the repurposed material was coordinated by some of the producers and writers who have now shut down The Office to support the strike.

    Comedy Central may be on to something with its rumored plan for theme rerun weeks of The Daily Show and The Colbert Report. Such gimmicks may be akin to rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic, but a strategy - any strategy - is better than doing nothing and simply letting viewers wander away.

    Ultimately, the sad irony of this strike is that, unless programmers figure out a way to retain eyeballs despite a dearth of quality scripted fare, they'll be driving viewers into the very arms of the technologies they claim are so difficult to monetize.

    If this strike drags on, and we have every indication that it will, the reality is that we'll soon be left with the picked-over carcass of the 2007-2008 television season. Viewers will go elsewhere for their fix, sampling more shows online or catching up on programs they've missed by shelling out for DVDs. By holding out for their piece of the pie, writers may be unintentionally furthering the system they claim is treating them so unfairly.

    Mark Goren

    Are we really still talking about "reach"?

    "Advertisers and media buyers are searching for ways to reach large audiences..."

    "For some, it's a do-or-die situation where they absolutely MUST reach the masses with their sales messages."

    "...fewer ad positions available and greater difficulty in reaching a broad spectrum of customers with TV sales messages."

    "Yes, but big reach on the internet is costly and not always easy to get, he notes."

    Don't take this as an attack on you, David. Not at all. But when did paying big dollars to "reach the masses" re-emerge as an effective way to engage, convince, sell and "reach the masses."

    To me, it seems like the strike is THE PERFECT time to experiment with new media, test different strategies and see if something new works. This is a golden opportunity to save money and find a combination that can deliver just as well as TV – if not better.

    David Reich

    Mark, there are many marketers who don't need or shouldn't need the mass media -- those selling to targeted groups. And I agree with you about the need to try new things, especially now with TV about to be limping along.

    But put yourself in the shoes of marketer who has to get a message out to everyone in a short amount of time. That could be a retail chain that lives for these several weeks before Christmas. Or it could be a movie company, who has to fill seats in 2,000 theaters on opening weekend or the film will get pulled to make way for a film with a better draw. As Gene DeWitt says, newspapers and radio seem to be proven alternatives. New media might do the trick as well -- or maybe better -- but how many CMOs or their ad agencies will want to take that gamble when the stakes are so high?

    I don't know the answer to that one.


    "It depends on the situation and the terrain." In other words, the brand, its size, goals, etc. New media do not supplant 'old' media; rather, they tend to evolve to supplement them. A marketer who has to drive millions of people to buy their products every day---Busch, McDonald's, AT&T---needs to reach huge audiences daily. New and emerging media are still a long way from filling that role on their own. On the other hand, many marketers are slow to experiment with and fully utilize new ideas and that's frustrating for those of us who'd like our clients to be on the cutting edge of new developments...

    Mark Goren

    I understand where you're both coming from. Really, I do. And I don't entirely disagree, either. It's just, in my mind, there's a hole in reach – because so much of it is not well targeted.

    Sometimes, when you're trying to talk to everyone, you're not talking to anyone particularly well.

    I also agree that for many companies, particularly the big ones you mention, should test new media strategies while they conduct their mass campaigns. That way they can contrast and compare and see what the most effective combination is.

    And that's why I still believe that the writer's strike is a great time to try some new stuff.

    Bob Glaza

    Thanks for the post David - great new link to Gene's blog. I tend to focus on the pile of pluses for newspaper advertising - reach only one of them, Mark - and never thought about how the strike might impact TV ads. Or advertising in general.
    One of the big advantages of newspapers is our ability to deliver the message to the door - day after day after day. It stays on that page for each individual reader.
    "Now" is always the best time to try new avenues. When push comes to shove - and budgets are tight - do we go with the new or stay with the proven?

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