Media Mavens

Media Mavens, Jean Rossi, Fox Broadcasting Co.

With Deal-Making Savvy, Exec Boosts Ad Sales for

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"X Factor" wasn't even on Fox's air in the U.S. in late 2010, but that didn't keep advertisers then from trying to buy time on the show.

Jean Rossi, president of News Corp.'s Fox One cross-media sales unit and exec VP-sales for Fox Broadcasting Co., said the network began to hear advertiser desire for the show when executives alluded to it during its 2010 development meetings. Suddenly, Ms. Rossi recalled, marketers were "approaching us with letters of intent," putting Fox in a potentially thorny situation: How to consider all reasonable offers and still keep happy veteran ad supporters of Fox's other big competition, "American Idol," who may have wanted an early crack at what was largely expected to be TV's next big program?

Jean Rossi
Jean Rossi

To maintain good relations with every sponsor, Fox, with Ms. Rossi helming the process, ordered up a "jump ball" in every category it wanted to lure to "X Factor," she said.

Not only was Ms. Rossi trying to preserve Fox's advertising relationships, she was also quietly using lessons learned from "American Idol" to devise new ideas for "X Factor." When "Idol" made its debut in 2002, Fox was taking a gamble on an untested (at least in the U.S.) concept. But after the show had been on for about a decade executives wanted to tweak their ad-sales plan to maximize opportunities. Rather than give each of the show's key ad categories a full season-long sponsorship, Fox determined it could sell "arcs" -- or integrations -- into a smaller series of episodes, which might allow for other marketers to get into the program, said Ms. Rossi.

"X Factor" sold Pepsi an exclusive sponsorship for the fourth quarter, while Verizon Wireless, General Motors and Sony Electronics will make appearances during the season.

She joined Fox in March of 1987 after serving in senior roles at Young & Rubicam and BBDO. She was named VP-national sales in 1990 and given added responsibility for prime-time sales and regional sales in 1993. She was named senior VP-sales in 1994, and earned responsibility for all entertainment sales in 1996 and Fox One in 2007.

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