America's Finest NewFront: The Onion Bares Its Teeth At BuzzFeed and UpWorthy
The Onion threw a gala "celebrating mankind's noblest pursuit" for its NewFront on Tuesday, satirizing the business and buzzwords of advertising while pitching its own ad-ready content.
The satirical news publication ("America's Finest News Source") unveiled two web series, renewed a third, and teased a brand new website taking direct potshots at media up-and-comers BuzzFeed and UpWorthy.
Among the new slate announced is a short digital video called "Who's Fucking?" The crass parody of sentimental dating websites features three couples, including a straight-faced geriatric one. Several advertisers are apparently interested. The Onion, whose web properties including the A.V. Club, draw more than 50% of its audience from the coveted 18 to 35 age range, according to comScore.
Despite its brash reputation (and its lack of participation in the "official" NewFronts managed by the Interactive Advertising Bureau), The Onion's goals at NewFronts are identical to other digital publishers. "We reach the millennial audience better than anyone else," said president Mike McAvoy. "And we create content for advertisers in a way that reaches that audience really well."
Born as a riff on legacy print, like The New York Times, The Onion recently turned to cable news with video spoofs. Now, it is setting its sights on viral web publishers -- and hoping to cash in on their horde of advertising dollars.
On June 12th, The Onion will introduce its third website, ClickHole. Original material -- lists, vidoes and quizzes that take a clear swipe at viral online publishers -- will live next to sponsored content, "side-by-side" the publication said, "with barely any distinction between them."
The Onion also announced it was renewing its original web series "Tough Season," a sports satire developed by DigitasLBi and its in-house production team, Onion Labs, for a second season. Lenovo is an exclusive sponsor for the show. Last month, Onion Labs named Energy BBDO's Rick Hamann as its senior VP.
Additionally, the publication will run a short series spoofing "Cosmos," the show from physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson.
"Our goal isn't to leave here selling a show," said Mr. McAvoy. "It's to let people know, 'Hey, we create content for brands."
Legendary TV anchor Regis Philbin introduced the NewFronts pitch with the type of wry, sarcastic humor that the publication is known for. "This is the pinnacle of my career!" the veteran broadcaster exclaimed. "How lucky can I get?"