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A Hi-Tech Image Update

Mar 22, 2004  •  Post A Comment

When ABC unveils the graphics and colors of its new on-air look this summer, its 225 affiliates will be able to incorporate the changes into their markets with the click of a button.
The network’s new look, the details of which are still under wraps, will include “evolutionary” changes to all the graphics elements, said John Nuzzi, VP, affiliate marketing and promotion. In the past such changes might have taken six months or longer to spread to ABC’s affiliates around the country.
However, ABC now uses a Web-based service at myABC.tv to provide branded marketing material to its affiliates within minutes. That system will be put to the efficiency test this summer as the stations incorporate the network’s new look into their local marketing materials.
The use of myABC.tv is noteworthy because it illustrates how such convergence tools can exponentially streamline a formerly laborious process and save money. Mr. Nuzzi said myABC.tv has saved about $300,000 in production expenses for ABC since it began using the service a little more than a year ago.
The myABC.tv Web site is the “brand management” system for ABC that serves as an online resource for pre-approved, print-ready marketing materials for the network’s affiliates. The Web site is powered by a Web-based technology from a company called Brandopoly.
Mr. Nuzzi said the site’s use has radically changed the process of sharing and sending material to affiliates. Material that once would have taken a week or two to shepherd through the necessary approval process now takes only a few minutes, since it’s stored on the Web service as templates for quick access. Previously, ABC created about 100 different pieces of marketing material for its affiliates each season.
“It really streamlines the business of affiliate marketing,” Mr. Nuzzi said.
The system contains in a Web bank material for ads in newspapers and magazines as well as outdoor ads, Web banners, sales sheets, sales presentations, ratings and market information. Affiliates can use those network templates to create customized marketing and sales pieces, tagged with local headlines. They maintain ABC’s brand but are tailored with specific local market and ratings information.
The online system also allows the network to better control its brand, since some of the affiliate marketing material hasn’t been up to network standards, Mr. Nuzzi said. “[This] makes it easy to preserve the integrity of our brand,” he said.
That’s important to affiliates too. At Morgan Murphy-owned KXLY-TV in Spokane, Wash., Catherine Bruntlett, broadcast sales research director at the station, said the templates give a more consistent look.
“When we are selling, a client sees the same background between what they see on air, and I don’t have to worry about how I am going to create that look,” she said.
After the network’s new look is unveiled, ABC stations won’t have to call the affiliate marketing department every time they need a print ad or an outdoor billboard.
“If you are a station and wanted to do a print ad or outdoor billboard, you would have to come to us and we would produce it, and that takes time and money and back and forth through the approval process,” Mr. Nuzzi said. “A lot of time was spent on the phone and mailing back and forth, and now we have [it] online.”
A local station can simply insert a picture of its local news team to customize the billboard template found at myABC.tv. That minor difference saves the week or more that such a task previously would have taken, Mr. Nuzzi said.
In addition, stations in smaller markets often can’t afford to change or create new marketing material on their own. Pollack/Belz Communications-owned KLAX-TV, the ABC affiliate in 176th market Alexandria, La., rebranded last year with a new logo and subsequently needed new signage and billboards. With the new system, that process was less expensive than the old-fashioned and time-consuming method of sending drafts back and forth, Mr. Nuzzi said.
Each station has the appropriate access to the reservoir of “brand assets,” so that when ABC-owned KABC-TV in Los Angeles, for instance, logs on to the system it would see its logo appear on the ABC-sanctioned material, said Tom Trapp, Brandopoly CEO.