NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Love it or hate it, Sci-Fi Channel's much-blogged-about name change to Syfy has been the most buzzworthy cable rebrand in recent memory. While viewers won't officially weigh in with their remote controls until Sci-Fi flips the switch to Syfy on July 7, a diverse group of advertisers have been buying into the network's growing audience for the past two years, thanks to Shari Weisenberg.
Since joining Sci-Fi in 2007 from NBC Universal sibling Bravo as the network's first VP-strategic marketing, Ms. Weisenberg has helped Sci-Fi achieve an 11% increase in ad revenue, according to TNS Media Intelligence, by creating programs that broaden the perception of the Sci-Fi brand to both viewers and advertisers. SciFirst, a movie franchise Ms. Weisenberg created in 2007, offers studios a chance to showcase exclusive scenes from sci-fi and comic book-based films such as "Wanted," "The Watchmen" and "Wolverine." "Thirteen Days of Halloween," the network's successful October horror-programming stunt, expanded to "31 Days of Halloween," boosted ratings, and doubled the network's revenue and sponsorships. Ms. Weisenberg even welcomed autos back to the network via an integration with Subaru and a creative tie-in with Toyota.
Sci-Fi President Dave Howe said Ms. Weisenberg has been "a huge advocate of pushing the brand evolution through and understanding the best way to shift perceptions in the ad community. What we love about her is she's very smart, very creative, very ambitious and really rises to a challenge. What we've all seen in this brand is a huge amount of untapped potential, and she's been able to figure out those insights and key selling points."
Having helped shepherd Sci-Fi to its status as a top-five prime-time destination among adults 25 to 54, Ms. Weisenberg is setting her sights even higher for Syfy. "The fact that the brand is already so successful gives us the opportunity to take something that's already top-five and make it as big as it possibly can be," she said. Coming later this year is Syfy Ventures, a licensing initiative that will see Syfy moving into film, kids' entertainment and gaming, starting with a massively multiplayer online game with Trion, creator of "World of Warcraft." "There are so many ways we can extend this brand into new areas that will also be fertile ground for an advertiser," she said.