News Corp. companies made an unprecedented joint pitch to media agencies in the past few days as part of an initiative dubbed "Generation Fox." In addition to laying out for buyers the strengths of News Corp. assets from MySpace to Mobizzo, the executives also explained how it is broadening the company's cross platform offering. Jean Rossi is set to head cross-company deals as president, Fox Entertainment Group, integrated sales, and as exec VP, Fox Broadcasting Co. sales. Nancy Croston, senior VP-integrated sponsorships and specials at Fox, is also heavily involved in getting advertisers what they need across the board.
Extoling cross-platform buys
To make sure buyers get the message, News Corp. rolled out its most senior executives. In an hour-long presentation, Peter Chernin, News Corp. president-chief operating officer, joined the heads of all the main Fox companies to extol the virtues of buying Fox properties in the upfront, now little more than a month away. Fox faces competition for such youth-targeted ad budgets from the likes of Viacom's MTV Networks and from the CW, the joint CBS/Time Warner-backed broadcast network.
Fox's president-ad sales, Jon Nesvig, who attended last week's presentation, said: "We basically talked about the 12-to-24 year olds and the different platforms that reach them. The emphasis was on MySpace.com, IGN.com and the network and syndication and the Mobizzo people. This company is still dominant [in capturing the young adults]." Mobizzo is a global phone-content company from Fox Mobile Entertainment.
"It was clearly the A-Team," said Jason Kanefsky, VP-account director, MPG, who also attended the presentation. "It did show the breadth of what they have and their desire to integrate advertising to the level they want. A lot of times advertisers get pushed to the side. They understand the need to embrace advertisers."
When asked whether he was persuaded to move ad dollars towards News Corp. properties as a result of the presentation, he said, "They really share the 12-24s with Viacom, but no one owns them, because they move around so wildly. People have always assumed Viacom owns [the demo], but now News Corp. is staking a claim on the real estate."
'Packaging their assets'
"They are packaging their assets to appeal to a younger audience. There were a lot of statistics that were new," said Larry Blasius, exec VP-director of negotiations at Magna Global. "It just reminds people they are factor in that marketing."
While Fox executives have made joint presentations before, this time a much wider range of top brass came before media agencies to extol their cross platform offerings. Media buyers have repeatedly stated they want traditional TV players to tell them what's available beyond the small screen.
News Corp. responded by spending $1.2 billion in recent months to boost its Web credentials. The company snapped up Intermix Media, which created MySpace.com; Scout Media's sports sites; and IGN Entertainment, known for its array of gaming sites.
And while the network has done little in the way of cable video on demand (it has a VOD deal with sibling DirecTV) or iTunes, it has a niche in mobile entertainment and Web sites connecting so-called communities. News Corp.'s Web properties now range from Americanidol.com to Rottentomatoes.com to MySpace, among others. News Corp. claims that 65 million unique users a month to its Web operations, making it a formidable player when taken in aggregate.
Fox VP-Mobile Entertainment Mitch Feinman and Ross Levinsohn, president of Fox Interactive Media, took part in the presentations. Mr. Levinsohn is said to be close to unveiling a new sales structure for the Web sites, having merged the sales teams of My Space.com and IGN.com.
For buyers who might have missed the presentation, the News Corp. teams even set up a Web site, www.generation-fox.com, to showcase their offerings. The "Family Guy" animated baby Stewie Griffin introduces the show reel with trademark Fox bravado -- "Pay attention or suffer the consequences." Buyers can then click on any of the company's myriad web sites to see what's being offered.
The reel highlights Fox Broadcasting's programming strength in the demographic with shows such as "American Idol," "24," "The O.C." and the network's animated shows including the veteran series "The Simpsons." Tony Vinciquerra, president-CEO, Fox Network Group, and Mr. Nesvig were among the powerhouse lineup, alongside colleagues Lou LaTorre, president-ad sales at Fox Cable Networks, and Twentieth Television syndication chief Bob Cesa.
The presentation claims young adults control $350 billion in spending power and that Fox is the place to "engage" the demographic.
Among the Fox cable properties are Fox Reality channel, youth action channel Fuel TV and Fox Soccer channel. Twentieth Television is out selling syndicated properties including "Malcolm in the Middle" and "King of the Hill."