Keith Turner

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NBC's Keith Turner sings the praises of his advertising sales team. He has only two demands: One is teamwork, the other is musical.

"To work on my team you have to work together and have to be able to enjoy The Boss," says Mr. Turner. That means Bruce Springsteen, of course.

Indeed, NBC was born to run-run far ahead of other networks.

For more than a decade, the General Electric Co.-owned network has been the ratings leader in key demographic categories and the leader in network ad revenue. This past June upfront sales period, for example, NBC snared $2.85 billion, the most ever by a broadcast network.

NBC is not only tops in the all-important 18-49 viewer demographic, but more importantly for advertisers, it's farther ahead in 18-49 viewers with incomes of $75,000 or more. "That is something special that we have been able to take to market," says Mr. Turner, who's still in the demo himself at age 49. "There is no one that comes close to us."

Much of Mr. Turner's and NBC's advertising success has come from its longtime programming triumphs on Thursday nights.

"He has capitalized on their Thursday night success to great effect for their advertising," says Joe Abruzzese, president of advertising sales-U.S. for Discovery Networks. "He's a great competitor." Mr. Turner had worked at CBS when Mr. Abruzzese headed up ad sales there.

Mr. Turner has been NBC's president of advertising sales for five years, and while record upfronts have been headline accomplishments, he's especially proud of his experience while in charge of NBC Sports and Olympic ad sales, especially in selling the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta.

"We started to sell exclusive categories in the Games, which hadn't been done in a long time," he says. "We had the fewest amount of advertisers but the most amount of money."

big on games

It was Mr. Turner's guess that the 1996 Games would be the biggest since it was the first time in a while that they had been staged in the U.S. Exclusive advertisers included Anheuser-Busch, Coca-Cola Co., Visa International and General Motors Corp.

NBC and the entire TV marketplace have benefited from sharp hikes in program pricing, with some networks getting astronomical 18% gains for the upcoming season.

"The agencies have a tough job right now," says Mr. Turner, who worked for Grey Advertising for five years in the media department. "A few years ago the market was 8% below the year before. There are going to be good years and bad years."

What does he like to do in his spare time?

"I don't have any spare time," Mr. Turner jokes, adding that his sport interests include playing golf.

He also takes guitar lessons, which means working on his Springsteen tunes. One of his favorites might also be a company fight song: "No Surrender."

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