By Sheree R. Curry
Special to TelevisionWeek
Once a network primarily for men, UPN has come into its own with females 12 to 34, delivering higher ratings and triple-digit growth, according to Nielsen figures cited by the network. The change has come in part due to the marketing of Tyra Banks’ runway competition show, “America’s Next Top Model.”
When the show premiered in summer 2003, much of its marketing involved explaining its concept to the network’s regular viewers. “UPN’s on-air was our weakest link at the time,” said Lori Shefa, who was VP of advertising and promotion for UPN until nine months ago, when she moved into a creative director position with CBS. “We had to go off-air in a big way to be heard.”
“Top Model” ads hit all the traditional media and then some, including cellphones, sides of buses, Internet sweepstakes and banners over beaches. “You name it, we did it,” Ms. Shefa said.
A photo of one episode’s contestants wearing nothing but Lee Jeans garnered free publicity when it ran in People the day after the episode aired.
Engaging and interactive marketing paid off, said Rachel Clark, senior VP of marketing at UPN. “I would walk through the mall and see young girls standing by the [show’s] posters, debating who they think will win.”
Ms. Clark said these “armchair quarterbacks” who see the series contestants as “sexy, young, relatable [and] inspirational” helped the most recent cycle of “America’s Next Top Model” rank first in its time period against all network competition among women 18 to 34, females 12 to 34 and female teens. The “Top Model” finale also beat NBC and The WB in adults 18 to 34 and adults 18 to 49.
“The transition UPN has been able to make in moving from a decidedly male demo into a high-style demo that advertisers and viewers lust after is a credit to the UPN marketing team, which quietly but determinedly is transforming the network into one to watch,” said Promax President and CEO Jim Chabin.
With much of the marketing campaign for the show done all in one day because of limited access to the participants, Ms. Clark said, the key to the campaign’s success was the work of the UPN creative team and the entire CBS marketing group.
Also receiving an award will be Ron Scalera, executive VP and creative director, CBS Marketing Group; Pam Liptak, VP, UPN marketing, music and special projects; and Lori Shefa, director, CBS on-air promotion.
Title: Senior VP, marketing, UPN
How long in current position: Four years
Year of birth: 1961
Place of birth: Palo Alto, Calif.
Who knew? A former
aerobics instructor, Ms. Clark appeared in the “Bruce Jenner-Winning Workout” video.