In her final months as chief marketing officer of BET, Janet Rolle helped the network make cable history with the premiere of "The Game," the highest-rated original sitcom in cable history. In her new role as exec VP-chief marketing officer for CNN Worldwide, Ms. Rolle will be faced with an even bigger challenge -- to make the once-dominant cable news network a viable ratings force once again.
In recent years, CNN has lost share of the cable-news marketplace to rivals such as Fox News, MSNBC and even sibling network HLN (formerly Headline News), often finishing third and fourth among key demos in prime time.
A first-quarter ratings rebound, however, has given CNN renewed confidence with programs such as "Piers Morgan Tonight," "John King USA" and "Anderson Cooper 360." The network was up 29% in prime-time among adults 18 to 49 and 22 % among adults 18 to 34, according to Nielsen. But in order to build on that momentum, Ms. Rolle is looking to CNN's established brand equity in an ever-changing news landscape.
"People's definition of news is changed, so the brand will change with that definition, to a certain extent," said Ms. Rolle, who is based in New York. "In social media, what you're seeing now is people essentially becoming news hubs of their own, posting articles, directing their friends and spheres of influence to particular stories by particular sources. We want to make sure the CNN brand is one people believe in enough to share with their communities."
Ms. Rolle fills the post left open by former CNN CMO Scot Safon, who last September was named president of HLN, of which Ms. Rolle will also have oversight. CNN Worldwide President Jim Walton told Ad Age that CNN's ubiquity on many global platforms remains its biggest advantage as a brand. "There's a lot that 's already working in terms of awareness," Mr. Walton said.
"What Janet will do best is tell our story in new ways on these emerging platforms."
Added Ms. Rolle, "It's rare that you have the opportunity to work on a brand that is 1. so powerful, and 2. still has so much opportunity ahead of it."