CBS Starts a 'Riot'

New Unit Allows Marketers to Advertise Locally

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- After CBS Corp. backed out of its shared ownership of Viacom Plus in November, it was only a matter of time before Les Moonves' media company leveraged its assets in radio, outdoor and television to form a multiplatform unit of its own. Enter Riot (Radio Internet Outdoor and Television), the aggressively named ad sales unit that allows advertisers to launch a local-targeted campaign across CBS's major markets in all four categories.
As a testament to the local focus, Riots are being established in several major markets, including Chicago, Dallas and New York.
As a testament to the local focus, Riots are being established in several major markets, including Chicago, Dallas and New York.

Inaugural deal
The announcement of Riot's formation comes with the CBS CEO's blessing: "No other company can deliver the national and local reach than these combined divisions of the CBS Corp.," Mr. Moonves said in a statement. It also comes with its first multimillion-dollar deal, an inaugural ad campaign for Dodge Ram that launches Valentine's Day on more than 100 of CBS's local radio and TV markets with links to a "Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em" interactive game inspired by the truck's TV ad on CBS's SportsLine.com.

There will also be a highly visible digital outdoor tie-in across CBS's outdoor platforms in New York, although its digital-display billboards were all sold out in time for the campaign, said Brigg Hyland, senior VP-business development, CBS Outdoor.

Riot comprises the sales heads from each of the three major units: Richard Lobel, exec VP-altitude group, CBS Radio; Jon Camera, senior VP-business development, CBS Television Stations; and Ms. Hyland.

Advertiser interest
The deal with Dodge came together rather quickly, Mr. Camera said, with initial talks starting in December. Other major advertisers have expressed early interest, and not just out of the notion that buying across platforms is cheaper than buying each medium separately. "When you have a good idea you price efficiently according to what the advertiser is used to paying," Mr. Camera said. "We want to make sure we talk about the concept. We're not going to be turning these things around in three, four weeks."

Ms. Hyland, who was involved with Viacom Plus before the split with CBS, said Riot is a unique opportunity for advertisers. "It's strictly local in focus, and Viacom Plus tended to give the [impression] the divisions seem very national in scope, given the fact that we were dealing with national cable and network divisions. Everything is about creating a big, local idea. I think people don't realize how big local can be."

Mini Riots
As a testament to the local focus, Riots are being established in several major markets, including Chicago, Dallas and New York, so advertisers needn't worry if their brand is associated with an "L.A. Riot."

Mr. Lobel added that creating a strong local platform is CBS's hope of being top-of-mind for major advertisers. "It gets the client to say, 'You know, what I want to do is local,' but instead of going to other companies we want to be the first stop along the local path. Let companies say, 'You know what, let's go to CBS first before we go any place else.'"
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