Sunday, January 11, 2009

How do you sell TV in a post-TV world?

The New York Times recently asked the question: “How do you sell soap in a post-TV world?”

Better yet: how do you sell a TV show in a post-TV world?

This semester, RRC Creative Communications' students' major campaign is to propose an IMC campaign for Breakfast Television on Citytv. The goal: to increase the ratings by getting 20 per cent more viewers to watch Citytv’s morning show, Breakfast Television, and generate as much publicity, notoriety, and momentum for BT as possible over the course of one month in the spring of 2009.

Having just discussed this in class, one student openly shook his head at the very possibility that one could succeed at this endeavor; I don't necessarily agree, though I will say that it's an interesting challenge, and one that was flagged recently by the New York Times Magazine in its awesome "Screens" issue.

Some pearls of wisdom from Jack Hitt's Times interview with Benjamin Palmer, Lars Bastholm, and Robert Rasmussen about how they'd promote Katie Couric in today's media landscape:

Rasmussen: So the other day I TiVoed the CBS news. And I gotta tell you, sitting in front of the TV for that long watching news was painful to me. Katie Couric is an outdated product, an outdated model; it’s not really relevant to me.

Palmer: What Katie Couric is not giving us, as a mainstream evening-news anchor, is an invitation to participate. You start involving people in the conversation. You start using television as the theatrical component to the Internet. Because what TV offers that the Internet doesn’t offer is a guarantee of fame. You know that millions of people saw that bit of you on television.

Rasmussen: I think consumers need to be able to control their media a little bit when they deal with Katie Couric. So say you’re in a taxi and you see a little promo of Katie Couric. Maybe there’s a menu that says, “These are the topics she’s going to be talking about today.” So Katie herself becomes a kind of menu.

Bastholm: She also needs to change from being a persona to being a person, and that’s what digital is best at.

Palmer: So it’s like, what does Katie Couric think about sports? What does she think about politics? What does she think about pro wrestling? What does she think about human-interest stuff? What does she think about whatever?

Hitt: How does any of this help CBS?

Bastholm: It helps CBS because you can start establishing the brand Katie Couric, and she happens to have her digital home on CBS.

Bastholm: You can’t turn her into Walter Cronkite. That model’s dead.

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