NBCU calls for ad industry to use the pandemic to fix what's broken
Instead of watching a “Saturday Night Live” skit or performances from stars of “The Voice” on Monday morning, NBCUniversal hosted a virtual town hall that included celebrity appearances, clips from a new show and an update on the state of the ad industry amid the pandemic.
But at the onset, Linda Yaccarino, chairman, advertising and partnerships, NBCU, who was introduced by singer and judge on “The Voice,” Kelly Clarkson, said the town hall was not meant to serve in place of its usual upfront presentation.
NBCU didn’t release its fall schedule, but Yaccarino said from her home in Long Island, “Don’t worry, it’s all coming back … Once we know the details about Sunday nights, you will be the first to know.”
Yaccarino echoed a sentiment heard by other network groups over the past week—the need for stability.
When it comes to programming, Laura Molen, president, advertising sales and partnerships, said NBCU will air new episodes of fan favorites like “This Is Us,” Bravo’s “Real Housewives” and “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” in the fall.
Earlier on Monday, Fox released its fall schedule, shifting some programming that was originally planned for spring and summer into the fall, due to delays in production amid the pandemic.
While NBCU did show a clip for its new comedy from Tina Fey, “Mr. Mayor,” starring Ted Danson, the goal of the presentation was to discuss how to move ad innovation forward.
“What do we want this industry to look like when we come out on the other side?” Yaccarino said. “We have permission to change the things we know need to change. Let's do it already.”
“This is the moment to fix what we know needs to be fixed, not just for us, but for everybody,” she added.
One area NBCU is looking to fix is commercial clutter. To do this, it is encouraging advertisers to move away from 15-second commercials, which Molen said work better in digital, and to focus on 30-second ads, which she said are better for brands on linear TV.
Unsurprisingly, the company talked up its One Platform, where it is bringing together all of it linear and digital inventory across channels and platforms to make buying easier for advertisers. Now, the platform will also include inventory from Sky, which the NBCU said will allow brands to create one media activation to reach audiences globally.
NBCU also introduced a new ad product called Product Synch that uses its audience data capabilities to find the best places for marketers to integrate their messaging into storylines, place custom content or execute a product placement.
And this summer, the company will host a virtual Creative Summit to gather the creative community, including talent from both in front of and behind the camera, to discuss the important role creative plays—regardless of what is happening in the world. NBCU will also provide a look at its new content and commercial innovations at this time.
Radio City or not, there was still a sizzle reel showing a montage of NBCU shows, including episodes that have been shot remotely during the quarantine.
Register for Ad Age's TV Pivot, May 12-13, where TV sales leaders, media buyers and marketers will discuss the future of deal-making and the way forward amid the pandemic.