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NBCU Expects to Grow Greener

Apr 13, 2008  •  Post A Comment

NBC Universal is expecting ad sales momentum from its upcoming Earth Week of eco-friendly programming to carry over into a green upfront.
During the week of April 21, 48 NBC Universal divisions and 27 Web sites will be airing more than 100 hours of environmentally aware “Green is Universal” programming, continuing an initiative the company kicked off last November that was responsible for bringing in more than $20 million in incremental advertising revenue from 20 sponsors, some of them new clients.
Earth Week programming highlights include a series on “NBC Nightly News,” special content on local stations and their Web sites and green segments on syndicated shows such as “Access Hollywood.” On cable, Bravo will have interstitials, Oxygen personalities will give green tips and
USA Network will change is slogan from “Characters Welcome” to “Environmentalists Welcome” for the week.
Good Business
The advertisers for Earth Week include SC Johnson, sponsor of NBC’s “The More You Know” public service campaign, which has taken on a green theme; Pharmavite’s Soy Joy all-natural fruit and soy snack bar, which is using NBC prime time, Bravo and Bravo.com as a relaunch platform; and NBCU parent company General Electric.
Following GE’s lead, NBCU is one of several media companies embracing green in its programming and operations as a business strategy. Beyond programming, NBCU is engaged in green initiatives ranging from a new hybrid MSNBC News truck that will be used to report stories about the environment to having its theme parks and movie studio put more of their promotional materials on recycled paper.
“Green is good for the environment and green—if done well and strategically—can be good for business as well,” said Lauren Zalaznick, who in addition to serving as president of Bravo Media and Oxygen Media, heads NBC Universal’s green initiative.
NBCU’s Green Week last November featured 150 hours of programming across 37 NBC Universal divisions. NBC prime-time shows had environmental storylines, including an appearance by former Vice President Al Gore on “30 Rock.”
The company is planning another Green Week next November and another Earth Week in April 2009, and those will be sold in the upcoming upfront ad market.
The Earth Week stunt “is great timing to set up the upfront with such a big presence again,” Ms. Zalaznick said.
Soy Aware
NBCU’s Earth Week was an attractive place to relaunch Soy Joy, said Lisa Herdman, VP and associate director for network programming at RPA, which buys media for the brand.
Soy Joy is aiming for women 18 to 49, but the agency is focusing on women who are very environmentally aware, “so anything that has to do with green or how she can help the environment in an optimistic, healthy way, that is something our target is very aware of and prone to do,” Ms. Herdman said. “We wanted to associate Soy Joy with something very optimistic and positive.”
The agency was aware of NBC’s green programming initiative in November and found out it had another one on tap for April, when the campaign was set to launch. Soy Joy ads using the tagline “fortified with optimism” will air exclusively on the NBCU networks for a week before spreading to other national broadcast and cable networks and syndicated programs.
“It was to their advantage to do that first and foremost” with green programming, Ms. Herdman said. “Some networks are doing it a lot better than others. NBC is doing a great job of it. They’re being advertiser-friendly in this case.”
NBCU is creating pod-busters for Soy Joy with original content designed to increase audience retention in commercial breaks and enhance recall of the commercial message. General Electric is also getting pod-busters with custom content.
Shari Post, the NBCU sales executive responsible for selling green sponsorships, is looking for year-round sponsors.
“Obviously we are talking to people about longer commitments,” she said. “We do have programs on certain platforms that are sustaining.”
NBCU is going to ad agencies with some marketing stunts to get the green message out. It is putting up decals in agencies with suggestions about saving energy. It is also thinking about dropping off reusable water bottles.

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