TruTV Seeks to Break its Copy Cat Image

Steve Kaplan Startup:

With the approach of Upfronts—the television industry’s term for the annual negotiations with advertising agencies for next year’s TV season—TruTV seeks to change its image in the hopes of attracting more advertisers.  The network’s current programming has very few, if any, shows based in original content.  Their biggest hits—Hardcore Pawn, Container Wars, Storage Hunters and Swamp Hunters—all have plots that mirror original hits from other channels.  As a result, Chris Linn—president and Head of Programming for the Turner Broadcasting owned cable channel—says it is time for a change.  An article was recently completed by Advertising Age to detail the intended amendments to programming and marketing for the network.

Since TruTV survived the transition from Court TV in 2008, their programming has been stuck in a stagnant state.  Not only is there a limited amount of original programming, Linn says their shows all even look, sound and feel similar to one another.  Linn isn’t alone is this observation; consumers have noticed too.  Prime-time ratings for the network are down over thirty one percent for the season and it averages a meager six hundred eight four thousand total viewers.

The most popular show on the network—and one of the few that is original in content—is Impractical Jokers, a comedy that averages a little over two million viewers.  Based on this information, Linn has made the choice that the focus of the network should be geared towards comedy.  Therefore, they have introduced three comedies that will debut in their new line up.  The Carbonaro Effect will feature comedic magician Michael Carbonaro as he performs various tricks on clueless people and captures it on camera.  The show is slated to begin in May.  Friends of the People will be a scripted sketch comedy series and Motor City Masters will be a comical competition series; no further details on these series have been provided at this time.

Linn is aware that comedy is a slippery slope.  As such, he declared that TruTV wishes to appeal to “fun seekers,” but perhaps not the audience that is drawn to the acquired taste of networks such as Comedy Central.  They look to create comedy that can appeal to everyone in the hopes of pulling in a variety of advertisers in the process.


from Steve Kaplan Startup

Big Companies Cut Back on Everything, Except Advertising

Statistics for big companies throughout 2013 indicated that businesses, in general, limited spending due to money strains. However, one item larger corporations chose not to slack on was their funding for advertisements.  An article recently published by Advertising Age sought to explain this choice.

After the economic breakdown of 2008, companies, both big and small, have struggled to regain the trust of the consumers.  Frequently, ads are their chosen method of doing so; it is by far the easiest means of communication between the company and the buyer.  However, the article did note that a statement by Corebrands founder and Chairman Jim Gregory indicated that there is still a long journey ahead in terms of regaining trust.  While consumers are slowly beginning to spend money and put their faith back in the economy, businesses cannot rely solely on marketing to get the word out on their successes.  According to the article, reaching out with employment needs indicates a healthy business with booming profit.  In essence, if the company has spare money to hire further employees, consumers will interpret this as a solid indicator that things are going well.

Money must also be invested in the company to keep things stable.  Generally speaking, companies have found investing in advertising far cheaper and more productive than engaging in research and development.  However, this puts a lot of pressure on the ads being issued; they must hold a strong emotional component to hook customers on products that may not have undergone much development.

Technology is a likely avenue for reinvestment as well.  Technological sources can provide some of the development at a cheaper cost than more traditional research and development paths.  It can also provide statistics that allow the company to supply the perfect amount of product to meet the current level of demand; therefore, no money is wasted by over supplying or failing to produce products that could’ve been sold.  Finally, technology can also be a cheap means of advertising, if marketing methods are applied affectively and appropriately.

from Steve Kaplan Digital

Taco Bell on the McProwl with New Marketing Campaign

A series of commercials issued by Taco Bell attacks the outdated status of McDonald’s marketing attempts and menu items.  Advertising Age recently completed an article to summarize the two commercials issued thus far from the Tex-Mex fast food restaurant.  The first ad was a somewhat subtle jab, as it depicted a man named Ronald McDonald eating one of the new breakfast items supplied by Taco Bell.  The man was, of course, simply a Ronald McDonald, not the Ronald McDonald; however, the message was quite clear—even Ronald is intrigued by the fact that Taco Bell has started serving breakfast.

The second ad issued is far less subtle in its intended message.  The main man of the commercial is depicted in full 1980’s stylings—a Miami Vice outfit, complete with a white blazer, pushed up sleeves, pastel shirt and a mullet.  As he eats a McMuffin, the man sings to the tune of “Old MacDonald,” with these altered lyrics:  “I’ve been eating Egg McMuffins since 1984.  But when I saw Taco Bell made a waffle Taco, I figured I would get with the times.”

Chris Brandt, Taco Bell’s Chief Marketing Officer, clarified the intentions of the strategy behind these ads.  Brandt felt that McDonalds has had the market on fast food breakfast items for years.  He wanted ads that implanted the idea that Taco Bell is the “next generation,” of breakfast items.  Due to the strong following that enjoys McDonalds’ breakfast items, and has done so for many years, he knew the ad campaign needed to be abrupt and disruptive to catch the public’s attention.

Brandt is confident this system will only increase the already positive breakfast sales Taco Bell is experiencing.  While Brandt declined providing statistics and figures, he did acknowledge that the endeavor has been successful enough to dedicate the chain to actively working towards expanding their breakfast menu.

from Steve Kaplan, The Entrepreneur