Upfront 07

CW's Second Year All About Being Hip

Network Stocks Up on Pussycat Dolls, Gossip Girls and America's Next Top Models

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- With three nights of upfront presentations and after-parties under their belts, attendees at the CW's breakfast and presentation this morning at Madison Square Garden Theater were no doubt grateful to be greeted by Jamba Juice Smoothies and men bearing trays of breakfast burritos and cinnamon buns. Coffee, needless to say, was also on hand.
CW will continue its content wraps but also will add what it dubbed 'Cwickies' -- very short ads that one sponsor can own for a night and will be sprinkled throughout commercial pods.
CW will continue its content wraps but also will add what it dubbed 'Cwickies' -- very short ads that one sponsor can own for a night and will be sprinkled throughout commercial pods.

In case that didn't wake everyone up, CW made sure its pre-presentation breakfast had a jolt of energy from a DJ spinning on stage while contestants from "America's Next Top Model" paraded and graffiti artists created four posters, each relating to a trend catching on with 18- to 34-year-olds. John Gill, a Southern California artist, worked on a piece that illustrated "Natura" electronics, made from natural materials, while across the stage, "urban media" husband-and-wife team Derek and Heather created a hip-hop-themed piece about "ghost riding" -- getting out of a moving car and dancing on or next to it.

Pussycat Doll performance
So much for the warm-up. The CW was determined to keep attendees' attention, starting off with a performance by the Pussycat Dolls, including their newest member, Asia, winner of this year's reality series "Pussycat Dolls Present: The Search for the Next Doll."

CW President-Entertainment Dawn Ostroff was introduced as an honorary Doll and later Photoshopped into a projected picture of the Pussycat Dolls. "I wish!" she told attendees.

Her other wish is that advertisers embrace the CW's positioning as the network for 18- to 34-year-olds, now the country's largest demographic, at 70 million strong. "This youth culture is unlike any other before it," Ms. Ostroff said. "And we are all over these trends." The CW has the youngest median age, 32, a full decade younger than the next-youngest, Fox at 43.

New ad units
The year-old network introduced a new ad unit last year, known as a content wrap, which this year has spawned its own series, "CW Now." From the producers of "Extra," "CW Now" will allow brands to "be woven into the very fabric" of the show, according to President-Sales Bill Morningstar. Because the show is focused on identifying hot products and cool trends, marketers will be able to craft messages that show their products as part of whatever trend is highlighted. Some celebrity gossip also will be thrown into the mix.

CW will continue its content wraps but also will add what it dubbed "Cwickies" -- very short ads, maybe five seconds, that one sponsor can own for a night and will be sprinkled throughout commercial pods. "The 30-second ad is still powerful; it's not going anywhere," Mr. Morningstar said. "But with Cwickies, content wraps and 'CW Now,' we're offering advertisers a chance to work with us in imaginative ways."

"CW Now" will air at 7 p.m. on Sundays, followed by another new show, "Online Nation," at 7:30. "Online Nation" will take the "best of viral video and gives it a nationally televised platform," Ms. Ostroff said. Viewers also will be encouraged to upload their own videos.

Defining shows
As for the new shows that will define CW? First up was "Gossip Girl," from the creators of "The O.C." This time around, however, the show isn't confined to on-air. Viewers can follow the antics of the teenage cast in a virtual, 3-D online world where their avatars can shop and party; use the "Gossip Girl" site for social networking; or cut their own music videos, interspersing pictures of themselves with scenes from the show, and share them with friends. The new show has been paired with "America's Next Top Model," and both casts made appearances onstage and garnered polite applause from the audience.

"Wednesday will be everyone's guilty-pleasure night," Ms. Ostroff said.

Another new show, "Life is Wild," was greeted with enthusiastic applause and looks like a shoo-in to snare viewers missing "Seventh Heaven." Filmed entirely on location, it centers on a blended family that leaves New York City to spend a year in South Africa. "Aliens in America," a high-school fish-out-of-water comedy set to follow "Everybody Hates Chris," also scored genuine laughs from attendees.

Another audience favorite
Tuesday night's "Reaper," from Kevin Smith, the director of "Clerks," also got a big response from the audience. The premise: A slacker discovers on his 21st birthday that his parents sold his soul to the devil when he was born, and now he's forced to be Satan's bounty hunter. Ray Wise, who stars as the devil, appeared onstage in a flash of fire and an impeccable suit to say, "I'm sure we won't have a problem with these people supporting 'Reaper,' will we?"

Ms. Ostroff and Mr. Morningstar certainly hope not.

The presentation ended with the world premiere of CW's new theme song, "Get Into It," sung by the lead singer of the Pussycat Dolls. And, yes, she was very into it.

CW PRIME-TIME SCHEDULE FOR 2007-2008

MONDAY
8:00-8:30 p.m. "Everybody Hates Chris"
8:30-9:00 p.m. "Aliens in America" *
9:00-9:30 p.m. "Girlfriends"
9:30-10:00 p.m. "The Game"

TUESDAY
8:00-9:00 p.m. "Beauty and the Geek"
9:00-10:00 p.m. "Reaper" *

WEDNESDAY
8:00-9:00 p.m. "America's Next Top Model"
9:00-10:00 p.m. "Gossip Girl" *

THURSDAY
8:00-9:00 p.m. "Smallville"
9:00-10:00 p.m. "Supernatural"

FRIDAY
8:00-10:00 p.m. "Friday Night Smackdown!"

SUNDAY
7:00-7:30 p.m. "CW Now" *
7:30-8:00 p.m. "Online Nation" *
8:00-9:00 p.m. "Life Is Wild" *
9:00-10:00 p.m "America's Next Top Model" (encore)

* Denotes new programs
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