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CBS Plans Major Marketing Push Behind Couric

Cable News Ads, Local Spots and Katie's Face on Buses

By Published on .

PASADENA, Calif. (AdAge.com) -- CBS is executing an ambitious marketing strategy to ensure Katie Couric comes out of the gate with strong ratings Sept. 5 when she takes over the evening news anchor chair.
Katie Couric (with CBS News President Sean McManus, left)
Katie Couric (with CBS News President Sean McManus, left) Credit: AP

CBS's president of marketing, George Schweitzer, said the network will soon begin a barrage of ads on rival cable news outlets, including Fox News, CNN and MSNBC. While Mr. Schweitzer won't give details about where precisely those commercials will appear, the network is getting around restrictions that prevent rival outlets buying time on each other's airwaves by picking up spots through local cable interconnects, which are sold by the cable systems operators, not the networks.

Radio and outdoor siblings
Closer to launch, CBS will pull in the full promotional weight of its corporate siblings, including CBS outdoor and CBS Radio, to promote its new evening news host. As part of that initiative, Ms. Couric's face will appear on the front of New York buses for the month of September.

On-air marketing promoting Ms. Couric began two weeks ago, with current evening news anchor Bob Schieffer appearing in ads running in CBS news programming to explain the changes and his shift back to Washington. Next, Ms. Couric will appear on air to talk about her news philosophy and her approach to the job. The network has shot five separate spots that will run through all dayparts.

CBS is also working to improve the local lead-in for the national evening news, as its stations are traditionally weaker than its rivals in that area. Ms. Couric, who officially started on the job last week, is shooting 190 separate spots, naming each station affiliate to assist the stations promote their local news broadcasts.

After her debut in September, CBS will roll out an extensive online ad buy through third-party properties, which are unnamed at this stage. The network will then back up each night's broadcast by shooting daily "topical advertising," about what's on the evening show that night to drive evening viewership.

Katie's daily blog
Separately, CBS announced on Sunday that it will simulcast the "CBS Evening News" on CBS Radio News. It will be offer it to 500 affiliated stations. The network also is giving Ms. Couric a daily blog, which is aimed not only at updating viewers throughout the day but also at attracting comments from them. The blog will be available for sponsorship, though Sean McManus, president, CBS News and Sports, said he didn't know if it had already attracted a sponsor.

By mid-afternoon each day, Ms. Couric will also appear in a video segment to talk about what's going on in the world that day. The on-demand video clip will be found at CBSNews.com and as part of Verizon's VCast.
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