Antoinette Zeluses the word "fun" a lot. But another favorite word must be "results."
|Antoinette Zel, Senior exec VP-network strategy, Telemundo
Since joining NBC Universal-owned Telemundo in November 2004 as senior exec VP-network strategy, she's revamped its struggling cable network Mun2 to be younger and hipper, relocating the channel from Miami to Los Angeles' young Latino creative community and shooting programs live at Universal Studios' CityWalk. One of those shows, a live variety program called "Vivo," has started airing on the local NBC channel in L.A. Mun2's ratings have doubled or tripled in most dayparts, she says.
In June 2005, Ms. Zel took over marketing, digital and research areas at Telemundo. To bring its abysmal Web presence up to speed and add fun online content, she installed Telemundo's first and long-overdue VP-digital media. This month, Telemundo took another digital leap by merging Telemundo.com with Yahoo's Spanish-language portal. She also commissioned a survey of hard-to-figure-out acculturated Hispanic youth. The results have spread like wildfire through the Hispanic market.
At a time when English-language TV networks are wondering how they can appropriate some of the success enjoyed by Spanish-language telenovelas, Ms. Zel kicked off Telemundo's "Tierra de Pasiones" ("Land of Passions") novela, a sort of "Romeo & Juliet" meets "Dynasty" in the California wine country, by creating a glamorous red-carpet premiere for Telemundo viewers. The novela's first hour-long episode was screened in a theater. Attendance rose by 25% at Universal Studios Hollywood the weekend Telemundo took over the theme park for a Latino version of NBC's "Fan Fest." The "Fiesta de Estrellas Telemundo" brought fans together with the stars.
"This is the year we take a deep dive into understanding how Telemundo can take creativity to another level, with the right resources, strong creative voices, risk-taking and having more fun," says Ms. Zel, 41.
"When I recruited Antoinette ... I was impressed with her talent, vision and passion for the business," recalls Telemundo President Don Browne. "Her reputation in the industry, her expertise, determination and knowledge of our growing markets have been important ingredients to our growing success."
Ms. Zel, a former entertainment lawyer, is credited with making MTV Networks Latin America a success during her five years as the region's president before joining Telemundo. As a New York-born Cuban-American who spoke Spanish first and learned English later, she's at home with both the acculturated Hispanic youth she wants to attract to Mun2 and the typical Telemundo viewer, still Spanishdominant but aspiring to upward mobility.
Continuing the fun, Ms. Zel's next event is a party for 30 6-year-olds to celebrate the birthday of one of her three bilingual sons.