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Moderate Network Hikes Seen for ’05

Apr 26, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Network television has a long history of selling what Detroit is making. But declining audiences and steep price increases have made network less attractive to an industry already facing huge marketing costs. Ford Motor Co.’s global media manager, Mark Kaline, said a restructured Ford is looking at alternative ways to reach potential buyers. Before joining Ford in 1997 Mr. Kaline served as senior VP at advertising agency Campbell-Ewald, working on the Chevrolet account. He spoke with TelevisionWeek special correspondent Laura Clark Geist following his return from programming planning meetings with the networks.
TelevisionWeek: What do you expect in upfront prices this year?
Mark Kaline: I think network will be less aggressive than [in] the last couple of years, and you know cable has the prospect of being fairly healthy. A lot of marketers are looking at cable, and while network will remain a consideration, the question will be to what extent.
TVWeek: What types of shows interest Ford?
Mr. Kaline: Reality is an interesting category. You need to have the right property before you can establish a lasting franchise. There are a few of them out there-`American Idol’ happens to be one. It’s the type of thing that we’re interested in rather than the romantic-relationship reality shows that are beginning to all look alike.
TVWeek: How does that impact an advertiser like Ford?
Mr. Kaline: There is a lot of talk in the industry right now about changing the upfront model, but there needs to be this adjustment in the production cycle. If shows are not being created and released throughout the year, you are going to be placing money on unknowns. As networks begin to work with production studios to change that, then the timing of the upfront becomes a more fluid item. And then, of course, the next thing that needs to change is our planning. Do we plan earlier? Do we plan later? Fox is starting to look at launching some programs before the end of the summer. They are trying to get out ahead of the fall announcements and whet some advertisers’ appetites.
TVWeek: It seems as though 2005 is going to be a big year for new product launches. Does that concern you in terms of buying media?
Mr. Kaline: It’s no secret that the major autos chase the same properties because we are all after those individuals who are more likely to purchase cars. Clutter is a major issue in cable. I’d hate to be in the middle of those pods that exceed two minutes in length.
TVWeek: How are you coming along with television accountability?
Mr. Kaline: That’s something that we’re currently in discussions with Nielsen and the networks about. There are many advertisers out there who want to look at commercial ratings rather than program ratings. Pricing is something that the marketplace will determine, not any one advertiser. As marketers we need to be able to look at what is happening with the audiences when our commercials are on. Not so much to perhaps take money away from network television or cable television but to have a better understanding of consumer behavior. Should we be buying enhanced TV options that ABC sells? Should we be online? You’d like to know what’s your dropoff is.