Upfront 07

Joe Uva's Univision Is User-Generated

New CEO Invites Viewers to Sit Onstage During Upfront

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- New to the U.S. Hispanic market, Joe Uva was pleasantly surprised during his first week as CEO of Univision Communications by the trust viewers place in the leading Spanish-language network.
'People give back an incredible amount of loyalty, affection and trust,' Univision CEO Joe Uva said about his network's viewers.
'People give back an incredible amount of loyalty, affection and trust,' Univision CEO Joe Uva said about his network's viewers.

"People actually call the switchboard of their favorite network [Univision] and ask where they should bank, or for the name of a good doctor, or where to send their kids to school," Mr. Uva told the upfront audience on Wednesday morning. "The relationship is stronger and truer [than with English-language networks]. People give back an incredible amount of loyalty, affection and trust."

Video contest
That first week (he started April 1) he ordered a contest inviting viewers to make videos about why they love Univision. At the upfront presentation, Univision aired a chunk of that YouTube-esque user-generated content, involving a lot of singing, dancing, rapping and even a guy whose pet iguana particularly enjoys the "Primer Impacto" news program.

Calling Univision's presentation the "first user-generated upfront," Mr. Uva flew in 14 of the video contestants to join him on stage. Dubbed "Team Univision," they were seated together on stage during the presentation, letting the agency and client execs who almost filled the 1,100-seat Time Warner Center theater watch the audience they are trying to reach watch Univision's new offerings.

At a time when all the networks are talking about audience engagement, the presence of Team Univision was a fascinating real-life take on the topic, and underscored Mr. Uva's point about Univision's relationship with its viewers.
Univision host/comedian Andrew Kennedy with 'Team Univision,' chosen from viewers who sent YouTube-style videos about why they love Univision.
Univision host/comedian Andrew Kennedy with 'Team Univision,' chosen from viewers who sent YouTube-style videos about why they love Univision.

Univision execs later touched on recent Simmons research that found that 63% of Univision viewers watch the ads, compared to 39% of English-language TV audiences. And 44% make a purchase based on the ads they see, compared to 10% of English-language viewers.

Further linking Univision's audience with its advertisers, the company asked for copies of their commercials, posted the spots on Univision.com, and asked users which ones most touched them. And the Corazon (Heart) awards were born. Univision handed out three to the top vote-getters: Ford, Subway and Allstate.

Clear ideas for improving the show
As someone who had to sit through way too many presentations during his previous job as president-CEO of media agency OMD Worldwide before joining Univision, Mr. Uva clearly had strong ideas about how to do a better upfront.

Univision's upfront started promptly, and was shorter than last year's, despite an appearance by Jennifer Lopez to describe her Univision miniseries based on her first Spanish-language album "Como Ama una Mujer" ("How a Woman Loves") and a live three-song performance by her husband, Marc Anthony (an ecstatic Team Univision jumped up and danced).

And, unlike previous years, Univision didn't keep pointing out that it's the No. 1 Spanish-language network, and didn't try to present all 30 new shows. They showed a few, and said everyone would get a DVD next week with all the programs. Mr. Uva also ended the practice of Univision's co-presidents of network sales, Dennis McCauley and Tom McGarrity, starring in a funny video.
Tom McGarrity and Dennis McCauley, co-presidents of network sales at Univision get a laugh.
Tom McGarrity and Dennis McCauley, co-presidents of network sales at Univision get a laugh.

Andrew Kennedy, a hilarious half-Colombian, half-British comedian who hosted the presentation and periodically asked Team Univision what they thought about the different programs, said that one of the conditions when Univision was sold earlier this year was that "Tom and Dennis never be allowed to make another video." Instead, they entered suspended in harnesses and flew across the stage.

Silly spoofs
"Thank you for putting up with the silly spoofs year after year," Mr. McGarrity said. "The old owners made us do it."

Univision's previous CEO, A. Jerrold Perenchio, never appeared on stage. Mr. Uva endeared himself to the audience by opening with a few phrases in Spanish, learned from his daughter, a Spanish teacher for Teach for America who works with recent immigrants at a South Bronx school.

After the presentation, Hispanic agency execs praised Univision's focus on Hispanic consumers, and how their relationship with media differs from that of Anglos.

"I like the angle from the consumer side," said Manny Vidal. "A lot of clients still don't get it -- they don't understand the passion."

They also liked Mr. Uva.

"He's very hands on, you can tell," Mr. Vidal said.
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