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March 29, 2001

By David Goetzl

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- The Family Friendly Programming Forum, a consortium of major advertisers seeking to promote noncontroversial content on network TV, is trying to get retailer Wal-Mart to join its coalition, the

Consortium of marketers wants to clean up TV
forum's co-chairman Bob Wehling said today.

Mr. Wehling's comments came during the Association of National Advertisers Television Advertising Forum. Wal-Mart's inclusion would boost the 3-year-old FFPF's roster of participating companies to 43. Leading marketers in the forum include Johnson & Johnson, Pfizer (which now owns early member Warner-Lambert) and Procter & Gamble Co., where Mr. Wehling is the global marketing officer.

Negotiations with Wal-Mart are expected to be concluded within the next month, Mr. Wehling said, in time for the up-front advertising buying period.

Seed money for script development
Mr. Wehling's co-chair, Andrea Alstrup, corporate vice president at J&J, also said at today's ANA event that three broadcast networks are considering at least 11 shows for next fall for which FFPF funds were used in development (FFPF provides seed money to networks for family-oriented scripts).

The list includes nine scripts by the WB, which last fall launched the FFPF-approved show Gilmore Girls, several by CBS and one by ABC that the Disney-owned network may soon turn into a pilot. If one of the scripts is turned into a pilot, the network reimburses the FFPF for its expenses in developing the show and the money is folded back into the program.

Ms. Alstrup said NBC would join the script development program for 2002-03 season.

Capturing 8 p.m.
Since the FFPF's formation, which was steered by Mr. Wehling and Ms. Alstrup, the advertisers by agreement have continued to run spots during "controversial" network shows, while pushing specifically to "reclaim" the 8 p.m. time slot for family-friendly programming "that a multigenerational household can watch," Mr. Wehling said.

New FFPF members in the last year include Texas Instruments, General Mills and PepsiCo. Mr. Wehling said the idea is catching on internationally, with a consortium having been formed in Costa Rica and another under consideration in England.

Mr. Wehling also reiterated his belief that if successful, the FFPF concept some day could be expanded to other media, including Spanish-language content.

Copyright March 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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