Deutsch 'redefines' prime time

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DeutschMedia is nearing an early upfront deal that will shift approximately 20% of its clients' prime-time TV advertising spending away from broadcast into cable, syndication and Internet broadband.

Six of its clients, Bank of America, Expedia, Monster, Revlon, TGI Fridays and one other it won't name, have signed on as part of the deal. The national network budgets for the five known marketers total approximately $210 million, according to TNS Media Intelligence/CMR, which means at least $42 million from a single agency could move from broadcast during the 2004 broadcast upfront.

DeutschMedia, the media unit of Interpublic Group of Cos.' Deutsch, said the shift results from a new proprietary means of media buying it dubs "Consumer Prime." The agency planned the approach for over six months, as a reaction to last year's upfront in which the broadcast TV industry took in a record $9.3 billion dollars in revenue, only to have fall programming perform poorly.

"We are redefining prime time," said Peter Gardiner, partner-chief media officer, Deutsch. "We're broadening the definition of prime time to include top- and mid-tier syndication, 7:30 to 11:30 p.m. stuff, and cable prime," Mr. Gardiner said. "What it basically does is recognize the consumers' vote with their viewing, instead of this archaic definition that has existed for a long time. It's basically consumer-driven television versus marketplace."

no quality sacrifice

This new approach, according to Mr. Gardiner, is expected to deliver Deutsch clients a 10% savings on their prime-time upfront media spending, because the bulk of the business moves away from the expensive CPMs of broadcast. Advertisers' budgets shift into more affordable TV, without sacrificing the number and quality of viewers for advertisers' messages, he said.

Consumer Prime resulted from a DeutschMedia study last year that explored consumers' perceptions of prime time versus what the industry defines as prime time. According to the study, consumers increasingly see prime time TV as more than just what is broadcast on networks between 8 p.m and 11 p.m.

"Times are changing, and we are excited by Deutsch's fresh approach and innovative redefinition of the media landscape," said Kiki Rees, VP-media/Internet, Revlon. "There are new, powerful and effective ways to reach our core audience. Revlon's innovative heritage of using high-impact media, and Deutsch's new methodology fits perfectly with our strategy to reach consumers where they are."

The agency expects to close on at least one Consumer Prime deal this week with an unnamed media company.

Mr. Gardiner indicated that his agency's move mirrors a similar approach announced by Viacom's MTV Networks during its upfront presentation May 5. "They've offered a prime-time product that aggregates units across many of their networks to create a killer brand that is a direct competitor to broadcast prime. That is of great interest to us."

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