Ding! Ding! Ding! Went the upfront

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So you have to make yet another mini-upfront presentation. You're well aware that you'll be facing a room full of people half your age, trying to get them to remember even one thing about your network. You're the sixth network to vie for their attention. Worse, after you're done, they have to sit through at least 30 more presentations.

What do you do? Well, if you're Court TV, you chuck the PowerPoint presentation and hire a Las Vegas lounge act John & Jean (who are actually New York actors Cristin Boyle and Kevin Pariseau). As Charlie Collier, exec VP-general manager of ad sales for Court TV, pointed out, the task at hand was to make an impression and take up as little of the day as possible.

Adages was allowed to sit in on the "Court TV Lounge" presentation at Carat, New York, and we'll say this much: An impression was made. Then again, they're two very loud, slightly cheesy folks belting out standards and tunes from Black Eyed Peas, Sting and others (but with lyrics about Court TV offerings). Perhaps the oddest lyrics, to the tune of the "Friends" theme song: "We'll be there for you, with a tent pole or two."

It was high-energy, to say the least. Said Shari Ann Brill, Carat VP-director of programming, at one point, "I want to get them some lithium."

But apparently, the plan worked. In fact, at one point, John & Jean had the jaded Carat staff clapping and singing. And Brill (and a couple of other Carat staffers) admitted it would stand out in a sea of sameness. "You have to sit through 50 of these things and they all start to run together like melted ice cream."

Another reason it will stand out? The singalong portion was taped as part of a contest and will be available online after upfront season is over.

The world is shrinking

Interpublic Group bills itself as "one of the world's largest advertising and marketing services companies, [composed] of hundreds of communication agencies around the world." How worldly? Its 10-K annual report last week said it has "offices in over 100 countries and approximately 43,000 employees." Its previous 10-K, filed last September, said it had "offices in approximately 130 countries and approximately 43,700 employees." Interpublic apparently decided it could do without approximately 30 countries and 700 employees. How does Interpublic account for its shrinking map? It doesn't. A spokesman said Interpublic "still operates in 130 countries," but he declined to comment on why it changed the annual report.

Catching up with Rula Lenska

If you're under 30 and don't live in the U.K., you probably don't know who Rula Lenska is. Actually, if you're over 30 and don't live in the U.K. you probably don't know who she is. In short, she's the actress famous for being not famous for her 1980s era Alberto Culver ads that ran in the States. In the spots, Ms. Lenska, with her deep voice and British accent, opened with the line "I am Rula Lenska," and, in her trademark move, would whirl and flip her long red hair. Only problem was, while she had some success on British TV on a TV show titled "Rock Follies," no one in the U.S. had heard of her.

Born Countess Roza-Marie Leopoldnya Lubienska to Polish aristocrats, Ms. Lenska was a young actress when she auditioned for the Alberto Culver commercial. The campaign, it turned out, didn't turn into her big U.S. break. Because she had a newborn, she couldn't capitalize on the exposure. Of course, after the campaign was over, even fewer people in the U.S. saw her. "It still astounds me to this day," she said of the campaign's fame. "Why it had such staying power and why nothing came of it, I just don't know."

If you are in the U.K., you may know Lenska from the most recent season of "Big Brother," in which she fed Member of Parliament (and Saddam Hussein fan) George Galloway milk from her hands.

Scheduling note

New York Festivals President Greg Sonbuchner and his team have extended the deadline for the International Advertising Awards to April 17. If you haven't heard of the International Advertising Awards, it's because NYF has consolidated the Television, Cinema & Radio Advertising Awards, the Interactive & Alternative Media Awards and the Design, Print & Outdoor Awards. At least someone is taking this whole integration thing seriously. It will also be holding the International Advertising Awards show in the last week of September to coincide with New York City's Advertising Week.

Contributing: Alice Z. Cuneo, Bradley Johnson Rinse, lather, repeat at kwheaton@crain.com
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