CNN’s Silver Anniversary

Oct 4, 2004  •  Post A Comment

CNN plans to throw itself a 25th birthday party next year and is looking for a few advertisers to help it celebrate.

Though the network went on the air in June, the commemoration will start in January and run through the end of the year. “It’s a big event. It’s going to be very visible on our air throughout the year,” said Greg D’Alba, chief operating officer, sales, who has been at CNN for 18 of those years.

Mr. D’Alba is looking for a handful of advertisers to sponsor the celebration, which will include special events, long-form programming and vignettes on CNN, its offshoot networks and its international outlets and Internet sites.

“The intention is for it to have a global presence. This is content that lives worldwide,” he said. “There will be tune-in. The vignettes will also be cross-promotion. There will be a strong amount of marketing support for this-television, radio, online, outdoor. This will have terrific impact.”

Mr. D’Alba said CNN has been discussing the concept with a host of potential advertisers, but hasn’t yet discussed pricing for the anniversary packages. Like the network’s election coverage sponsorships, they are expected to cost several million dollars.

“Packages will fluctuate depending on whether it’s a global deal,” he said. “The timing is perfect, coming after an election year, which gives us a lot of sizzle.”

Mr. D’Alba hopes to have the sponsors lined up before the end of the year.

“A big portion of our revenue comes from the calendar upfront,” he said. “We start negotiating those deals in about two weeks. I’m pretty confident that this is going to move in the calendar upfront.”

While there are times when news is a rough place for some marketers to run ads, Mr. D’Alba said the anniversary programming should provide a good environment for advertising.

“It’s a feel-good place to display creative,” he said. “Let’s face it, over the last 25 years, what we are talking about is innovation. There’s a lot of storytelling attached to how the world has changed, and in most cases for the better.”

Mr. D’Alba said the programming won’t be overly self-congratulatory. “Our intention here is not to say, `Hey, happy birthday to us.’ It’s really going to be about chronicling the last 25 years and the stories and events that we covered and looking at how these events changed our lives,” he said.

“Certainly we revolutionized the way people get news, the way they process news and the way they expect to get news, which is why it’s also going to be a look ahead to the next 25 years.”

CNN’s 25th anniversary comes on the heels of ESPN’s 25th celebration, which drew major sponsors including Nike and Gatorade.

“I thought ESPN did a great job with its 25-year coverage,” Mr. D’Alba said. “I do think there’s a terrific marketplace for this.”