Last Year John Muszynski Called for an End to the Upfront

Q&A: See What the Starcom USA CEO Would Like to Do Away With This Year

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CHICAGO (AdAge.com) -- Starcom USA CEO John Muszynski made the biggest news of last year's TV upfront by declaring the annual proceedings dead, at least as it had previously existed.
John Muszynski
John Muszynski

"The upfront must transform from a TV upfront to a video upfront," he said, citing the evolution of content from TV to the internet, mobile phones and other screens. "Lean-in opportunities will lead to a 365-day upfront market rapidly supplying and supporting content that engages people in new environments throughout the year."

In the context of last year's upfront those were fighting words from a guy whose agency controls nearly $8.5 billion in TV spending. MediaWorks checked in with Mr. Muszynski a year later to see if the chief of the Publicis Groupe media behemoth still feels the same way.

MediaWorks: So who are you killing off this year?

John Muszynski: I didn't kill off the upfront. I just said it would be different.

MediaWorks: Were you right?

Mr. Muszynski: It was a true video upfront, not just TV. Almost every programmer came to us with ideas for video, podcasts, HD, mobile. ... And we built these extensions into every single one of our advertisers' plans.

MediaWorks:So how has the process changed along with that?

Mr. Muszynski: It's evolved into a yearlong dialogue, and a much more complex discussion. I'm happy to see our partners really fortifying their offers. But all of these are complex, and they can't be done at 3 a.m. during a one-week period anymore.

MediaWorks: So, along those lines, who, specifically, has stepped it up?

Mr. Muszynski: I don't want to get in trouble naming names. But it is interesting to see how the media companies are changing. There was a story just the other day about ABC adopting a much more integrated model, similar to what ESPN did a few years ago.

MediaWorks: When we look back at the 2007 upfront, what will we remember?

Mr. Muszynski: The influence of peer production, and user-generated content has changed our clients' worlds. We're going to ask [media companies] to help us to be a part of that dialogue. If they can't, we'll have to do it ourselves. One other thing: You asked me before what I'd like to kill off this year.

MediaWorks: Yeah, who's gonna get it this year?

Mr. Muszynski: I'll tell you who -- program ratings. I don't care about program ratings. I want commercial ratings. And whoever slows that process down is going to feel it in budget reductions.
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