In Depth

NBC Polishes Globes to Sell Last Ad Spots

Network Trying to Revive Awards in Wake of ‘08 Strike

A year after the Golden Globe Awards were disrupted by the Writers Guild of America strike against the Alliance of Motion Picture & Television Producers, NBC expects the awards show to be a hit again with sponsors as well as viewers.

Last year, NBC had to forgo a reported $15 million in advertising commitments when the glitzy, star-studded awards show was canceled and replaced by a low-budget special in which entertainment reporters announced, then discussed the winners.

Most advertisers pulled out when celebrities said they would not cross WGA picket lines to attend the ceremony.

This year, NBC says L’Oreal, AT&T, Citicorp, Target and Kraft are among the big advertisers who will be involved in the return of the Globes on Sunday. The network broadcasts the Los Angeles ceremony live to the East Coast.

“We have many of our traditional sponsors back,” an NBC spokeswoman said, adding that the network still selling is spots on the broadcast, but is on track to meet its sales goals.

NBC also is working to ensure that viewers return to this year’s Golden Globes telecast.

NBC’s award special last year pulled in just 5.8 million viewers, down from the 20 million who had tuned in the previous year and the lowest viewership in the 16 years that the Hollywood Foreign Press Association’s annual event has been televised by the network.

While NBC aired its special, hosted by Billy Bush and Nancy O’Dell of “Access Hollywood,” E! Entertainment and TV Guide Network telecast the HFPA’s press conference at which the winners were announced.

John Miller, chief marketing officer for NBC Universal Television, doesn’t think last year’s fizzle has tarnished the Globes.

“I don’t think it hurts too much, because there was a fair amount of discussion about the Golden Globes last year and how the strike affected the Golden Globes last year,” Mr. Miller said. “It kind of stayed in people’s minds.”

Just to be safe, NBC will be doing a bit more promotion than it has in years past.

“It kind of worked out that way because we don’t have as many new shows that we’re launching that first week of the year,” Mr. Miller said. “The Golden Globes are a little bit earlier than usual, so that allows us a little more time to make it into a big event for us.”

NBC began promoting the Golden Globes when the nominations were announced last month. The network sent a crew to the announcements and a spot was quickly cut that highlighted the big stars who received nominations.

That spot has continued to air on the network, and another has joined it. The second spot recaps some of the memorable moments in Golden Globe history. Finally, there will be a set of spots highlighting the celebrities expected to attend the event.

NBC is using the theme “The Party of the Year” for its campaign.

Mr. Miller said that unlike other, stuffier award shows, the Globes ceremony is an occasion for having fun.

“You see attractive people dressed up, slightly inebriated and just having a good time,” he said. “With the economy being what it is and with the weather being cold, to see people in California dressed up in gowns and having a good time, I think the Globes will do a very good number this year just because it’s a great sort of escapism.”

Sharing the Load

Some of the promotional work for the Golden Globes is done by the movie and TV studios, which emphasize nominations in their own ads and trailers.

NBC, of course, included its nominated shows—including “30 Rock” and “The Office”—and movies from NBC Universal in its own promos.

“We hit almost all of our own nominees, but not to make it look like we were patting ourselves on the back,” Mr. Miller said.

In addition to promos on its own air, NBC has been running radio spots, some digital ads and cross-channel spots on cable networks the company owns. It also has made a deal with the in-store retail network PRN, which is airing clips from previous Golden Globe Awards telecasts.

Shari Anne Brill, senior VP of programming at Carat, said she expects some big marketers to return to the Golden Globes, but added that others may be cutting back on award shows because their overall marketing budgets are down.

While Ms. Brill expects the Globes telecast will be a big draw as it has been in the past, she thinks ratings will be down from two years ago because viewership of nearly all network programming is eroding.

“People like it because it’s a casual, relaxed show,” Ms. Brill said, noting that ratings will be dependent on how well some of the nominees do at the box office.

Brad Pitt starrer “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” for example, could help the Globes’ viewership if it turns out to be a big hit.

“You need a commercially successful movie to bring in mainstream viewers. Otherwise, the show will continue to lose ratings and be older-skewing,” she said.