BET Hires IPG Media Team Amid Major Original Content Push

Viacom Network Hires MullenLowe Mediahub and Identity After 18 Years With Harmelin

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A promo for BET News original documentary 'Through the Fire: The Legacy of Barack Obama'
A promo for BET News original documentary 'Through the Fire: The Legacy of Barack Obama' Credit: Black Entertainment Television LLC.

Viacom's BET Networks has hired sibling Interpublic Group agencies MullenLowe Mediahub and Identity as media agencies of record as the entertainment brand looks to promote more of it original programming in creative, data-driven ways.

Jeanine Liburd, exec VP-corporate communications and public affairs for BET Networks, said the brand issued a review for the business because it "needed a creative, super-skilled, data-driven strategic team of people to help us continue to be the No. 1 entertainment program to African-Americans globally."

Prior to bringing on the Mediahub and Identity team, BET worked with Harmelin for 18 years, said Ms. Liburd. Representatives from the incumbent were not immediately available for comment.

While Harmelin "served BET very well," Ms. Liburd said the network was looking for a media partner to promote its new original programming, as well as its story. Many media networks are "in the black space right now," she said, but BET has been in it forever, and the company wants to make sure it's adjusting its programming strategy and marketing across all platforms to drive the work its doing.

Mediahub and Identity will help drive viewership for BET's new and upcoming original programs, such as "Being Mary Jane," "The New Edition Story," "The Quad" and "Madiba," through data-driven micro-targeting, said Ms. Liburd. She added that the agencies will look at daily behaviors of its 18-to-49-year-old audience, as well as likely viewers.

Ms. Liburd said "any platform that consumes your time" could be considered a competitor today, from Netflix to Instagram, which is why it's key for BET to figure out how to "stay top of mind."

Last week, BET News, which does quarterly original documentaries, released "Through the Fire: The Legacy of Barack Obama," and Ms. Liburd said the network will continue to do deep-dives around issues that are important to its audience. The previous documentary was on the Black Lives Matter movement.

BET also hosted "Love & Happiness, an Obama Celebration" at the White House in November, which garnered a ton of media attention, including comedian Dave Chappelle talking about the event in his "SNL" opening monologue. Ms. Liburd said BET is "all about the big, 'of the moment' award shows and events." Next month, the network is partnering with the American Black Film Festival to produce the 2016 ABFF Awards.

While Ms. Liburd would not disclose financial details around the dual media agency relationship, she said the shops will help BET "make sure our money goes further" through data-enhanced planning solutions and strategic partnerships.

Viacom spent $559.7 million on U.S. advertising in 2015, according to the Ad Age Datacenter.

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