NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- NBC Universal is again trying to whet marketers' appetite for the coming upfront negotiations, in which huge amounts of commercial time will be bought months ahead of time, partly by touting tailored advertising packages that aren't just bulk buys.
The media company, in which cable giant Comcast Corp. is expected to take a majority interest over the next 12 months, made a concerted effort in a presentation today to play up recent programs it designed for advertisers such as American Express, General Mills and TurboTax. The campaigns typically include ads created expressly for air on NBC Universal properties, such as an ad that ran on "Chuck" for Honda that featured characters from the show.
As part of the effort, NBC said it would launch a quarterly "CMO in Residence" program, in which advertisers could tap the expertise of "former chief marketing officers from major corporations." Bill Stewart, who recently led marketing efforts for K-Mart, will join NBC Universal in May as its first resident CMO. The company also said its efforts to help advertisers navigate across its properties had landed General Mills as a client for a second year; the cereal maker will sponsor a week of programming and promotions related to health launching June 21.
NBC has reason to test nontraditional maneuvers. With consumers able to use dozens of new and digital media outlets at their whim, it has become much more difficult to nab results using just a traditional TV campaign. While NBC Universal's cable properties have performed well in recent seasons, moreover, its flagship broadcast network has had to grapple with ratings issues.
NBC executives hope new advertising programs will ease marketers' minds, too, after Jay Leno's 10 p.m. talk show failed to catch on in the ratings , displeased affiliates and finally led to a media spectacle when NBC pulled the plug.
But NBC Universal sees potential in its integrated-sales pitch, which allows advertisers to create individualized campaigns across the company's media properties. Marketers continually ask how they can "reaggregate the fragmented consumer," said Mike Pilot, president-NBC Universal sales and marketing, and reach a big mass of consumers who are busily splintering among new media choices.
NBC has been pushing this idea for the last several seasons, and for two years held what it called an "infront" to give advertisers an earlier-than-usual look at programming in hope it might coax these sorts of "integrated' deals from them. But traditional sales remain the primary way NBC Universal moves advertising, Mr. Pilot said.
Executives at other TV networks say they, too, have already begun meeting with advertisers regarding upfront possibilities. Already, Procter & Gamble has agreed to commit $100 million over three years to Discovery Communications' Oprah Winfrey Network, set to launch next January.