Last year Slattery repositioned A&E as a destination for scripted drama. This tied in perfectly with the launch of The Cleaner, A&E’s first scripted series in six years, and the miniseries The Andromeda Strain. For BIO’s new talker, Shatner’s Raw Nerve (below, left), Slattery’s campaign emphasized the "heated conversations with the hottest names in Hollywood" that were likely to result with a wild card host like William Shatner. Both networks obviously are benefiting from the presence of Slattery’s smarts: 2008 was A&E’s best year among key demos, ranking fifth in adults 25-54, and BIO enjoyed a 23% increase in total viewers.
CableFAX: The Magazine: What new perceptions of A&E and BIO did you want to instill in the minds of viewers?
Guy Slattery: A&E has been in people’s homes for 25 years. So although the network has evolved over the past few years from a niche arts network to a broader entertainment network, there were still some legacy perceptions attached to the brand. The "Real Life. Drama." repositioning is about clearly defining today’s A&E as a premium destination for authentic and dramatic scripted and unscripted programming.
BIO is built around one of cable’s great brands, the Biography franchise. While Biography is still the foundation, we needed to let consumers know there was a much broader content offering to be found on the network. BIO original series like I Survived… or Shatner’s Raw Nerve aim to prove the maxim that the truth about people is always more entertaining than fiction, hence BIO’s tagline, "True Story."
CTM: Where did you get the ideas for the repositioning?
GS: All our ideas come from consumer insight. We spend a lot of time talking to viewers of both networks to understand their lives and how they feel about our brands. This understanding has been the key to building successful show franchises and effective marketing campaigns.
CTM: What new method of marketing brought you the greatest success?
GS: We pride ourselves on exploring innovative marketing, and we clearly struck gold a few times in 2008. The digital space — be it social networks or our own online community — gives us an unprecedented direct line to interact with consumers. We have worked hard at reorganizing ourselves so we can have these ongoing conversations and not just focus on a fixed campaign period.
CFTM: If you could, how would you reallocate resources?
GS: We learn from every campaign. With hindsight you probably will always do something differently. No campaigns are the same, so it’s important to remain media agnostic and not stick to one formula. The creative idea behind the campaign should always dictate the allocation of resources, not the other way around.
Katie Lacey SVP, Marketing, ESPN: Over the last three years Lacey has kept ESPN’s marketing campaigns fresh, surprising and tapped into the heartbeat of the sports fan; nowhere is this more evident than in the inspired live ad campaign for the launch of SportsCenter AM.
Bill Bergofin SVP, Marketing, Versus: Bergofin promoted the net’s marquee properties — the NHL and Tour de France — and helped it lower the average age of its audience by four years. Older folks might scream foul, but advertisers are notorious ageists.
Kenetta Bailey SVP, Marketing, WE tv: In 2008, the veteran Bailey introduced the concept of I Do-ers, a designation representing independent women who are decision makers and WE tv’s biggest fans. Advertisers said "I do" to the I Do-ers campaign — 22 new upfront clients signed with the network last year.
Denise Conroy-Galley SVP, Marketing & Research, Outdoor Channel: Conroy-Galley has been a key player in re-branding Outdoor Channel. She’ll be following up her successful Gear Up and Go! and Spring Fever promotions with a campaign for comedy show Jimmy Big Time.