CBS has worked with other agencies on a spot-by-spot basis and has used Jacobs & Gerber as agency of record, but agencies haven't been brought in to pitch ideas for the different shows, and an agency hasn't been awarded an assignment of this magnitude. Cliff Freeman, part of MDC Partners, has been hired to create three TV spots, print ads and out-of-home work.
"It's TV, so everything is based on success. So if the spots are great and everybody loves them and ratings go up, we will always do more," said Chris Cranner, VP-special projects, CBS. Mr. Canner said the network is working with Cliff Freeman indefinitely.
"What we're trying to do is brand the shows individually. Sort of give them their own identity," he said.
Proliferation of screens
The proliferation of screens, from TV to mobile, means CBS needs a new way to promote its programming, he said. "We're not just driving people to the destination of CBS anymore and hoping they stick around for an entire night of broadcasting. We have to let these shows live on their own so if they choose to watch them online, if they choose to watch them on their cellphones, they know where they came from."
In-house, CBS produces between 8,000 to 9,000 spots a year. "It's almost like an agency hiring another agency, bringing in some more creative horsepower and a different point of view," Mr. Cranner said.
Cliff Freeman's beat out contenders including Omnicom Group's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners and Interpublic Group of Cos.' Martin Agency for the work.
Hiring a 'dead' guy
Jeff McClelland, CEO of Cliff Freeman, said that at the pitch, the agency hired a man to play dead in front of the conference room the entire meeting. On the back of his shirt were the words "Give us an hour and we'll solve this brand," a nod to the "CSI" tagline "Give us an hour and we'll solve this crime." Attendees had to step over the "corpse" to enter the room. The agency then pitched how ideas could go across platforms from Webcasts and ring tones to TV.
The work will break at next week's upfront sales sessions and station affiliate meetings at the end of May and June, but the ads won't air until late summer to early fall. The shows being branded couldn't be disclosed, but they are in prime time.