04/16/15: National Geographic Channels & Simulmedia



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BEHIND THE SCENES at the Upfronts
The People! The Parties! The Buzz!a

Since the National Geographic Channels Upfront Lunch at Momofuku’s Ma Peche in midtown on Wednesday was all about adventure and animals, it made perfect sense that the 60 or so invited guests were greeted at the entrance by an adorable rescue pup named Marley. “At every Nat Geo event we have a rescue on hand,” explained Courteney Monroe, CEO, National Geographic Channels, who celebrated her one-year anniversary with the company at the event. “Last year two of the waiters at the venue adopted the dog!”


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Starpower
Also on hand was Paul Giamatti. The award-winning actor directed an episode of a series debuting in 2015-16 called Breakthrough, which highlights some of the most important and fascinating current scientific innovations. Giamatti’s episode is focused on cyborg technology. “I’m not sure how the hell I got involved in this,” Giamatti confided to the crowd as they feasted on a sit-down meal of steamed pork buns, fried chicken and lobster fried rice. “But I’m so glad I did.” He seemed positively fascinated by the scientists he’d interviewed, from creators of artificial limbs to the inventor of a suit that allows deaf people to “hear.”

Giamatti is one of several Hollywoodites, including Ron Howard, Brett Ratner, Peter Berg, Angela Bassett, and Akiva Goldsman, to direct an hour-long episode of the series, for which National Geographic Channel has an unlikely partner in GE. “The company is not an advertiser, but rather a true production partner on the project,” Monroe explained. “This partnership is a great fit, as National Geographic and GE are two like-minded, distinguished, global brands dedicated to science, exploration and innovation.” Breakthrough is being produced by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer and Imagine Entertainment, as well as Asylum Entertainment (one of the teams behind the Emmy-winning documentary series 30 for 30).

While the actor had to dash shortly after speaking, plenty of talent, including National Geographic Channel’s Sue Aikens (Life Below Zero) and Jason Silva (Brain Games) and Nat Geo WILDs Boone Smith, hung around to speak with guests at the conclusion of the presentation.

Programming Pitch
The network made use of the venue’s floor-to-ceiling canvas walls for a visually stunning presentation that included an NGC sizzle reel appropriately set to the tune “Go Your Own Way” and clips from both networks’ new series and event/specials, officiated by Tim Pastore, President, Original Programming and Production, NGC U.S and Geoffrey B. Daniels, Executive Vice President and General Manager, Nat Geo WILD
.

Among the duo’s long list of announcements: Fans of the longrunning doc series Explorer will be pleased to learn NGC is reviving it after a five-year hiatus; topics will range from investigating the historic story of the virgin mother to poachers at Congo’s Virunga National Park.

Nat Geo WILD viewers have a lot of events to look forward to, including the return of Big Cat Week, and for dog lovers, Barkfest Weekend. And Jerry Seinfeld and his misbehaving dachshund will be paid a visit by Cesar Milan on an upcoming episode of Cesar 911.

On the Way
As NGC celebrates its most-watched March and surpasses 90 million homes, the network continues to attract top-tier writers, producers and talent. In addition to Breakthrough’s impressive credits, the network announced four-hour scripted miniseries Saints & Strangers, which paints a less rosy picture than the history books of the first Americans settlers who came over on the Mayflower. Executive Writer and Producer Eric Overmyer (St. Elsewhere) said he hopes to “knock the cobwebs off the old tale and give a more thrilling depiction of the story.”

And then there’s the one thing you’d might not expect to see on NGC: comedy. History of the WorldFor Now, a four-hour event from the writers of HBO’s Silicon Valley, uses animation, stop-motion and original sketches to turn history on its head.

Gifts Galore
As they exited the restaurant, guests were handed bright red canvas bags from The North Face containing three of Milk Bar’s birthday cake truffles and a cookie along with several books (including Brian Grazer and Charles Fishman’s A Curious Mind) and a pair of Jabra wireless headphones with a note card reading “A little something to help you tune out all the noise this Upfront season. -Your friends at Nat Geo.” (Ha!)

Just Asking…
Nat Geo and Nat Geo WILD stars and weigh in on social media.

What’s your favorite social media outlet?
Jason Silva
(Brain Games): Twitter. Best for social broadcasting.
Sue Aikens (Life Below Zero): Facebook. I call my friends the "Home Fries." We hold lengthy conversations, and we enjoy getting to know one another.
Neil deGrasse Tyson (Startalk):Twitter.It offers an instantaneous, neurosynaptic image of the world’s thoughts, views, and opinions.
Karissa Hadden (Animal Storm Squad): I tend to use Facebook a lot because I have met so many people that live far from me. It also gives me an unlimited amount of information on other rescues and training ideas.
Boone Smith (Man V. Puma): Instagram. I get to see all my friends’ cool pictures and post some of my own big cat tracking pics.
Niall McCann (Biggest an Baddest):Twitter. It’s splendidly succinct, and seems somehow less narcissistic than Facebook!

Quote of The Day
“I’ve had it with acting. I want to sit around and talk to scientists my whole life.” – Paul Giamatti


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For the second year, Simulmedia took a different approach to the usual programming-based presentation for advertisers, hosting an interactive “Peoplefront” forum. Held at the theatre within New York City’s Paley Center, the event brought together major players from marketing, brands and research, as well as media buyers and sellers.

Kicking off a day of data and audience targeting conversations, Simulmedia CEO Dave Morgan led a fireside chat with Linda Yaccarino, NBCUniversal’s Chairman of Ad Sales and Client Partnerships. After exchanging footwear compliments (Morgan’s patterned socks, picked out by his wife; Yaccarino’s strappy floral stilettoes) the trendy twosome set the tone for the day: the industry is ready to embrace data for more efficient advertising delivery.

What’s a PeopleFront?
“Historically, TV has been sold on the basis of content,” Morgan said. “Simulmedia has been part of the movement toward complementing the content-based sale of TV with a people-based sale. The PeopleFront is less about Simulmedia pitching something, and more about the need to show that either this was happening or not  and why the big networks are moving toward people based television.”

The Challenge
“You mean there is resistance to change?” joked Morgan. “The first challenge is, ‘It’s not the way it’s been done before,’ which sums up a lot.”

The Brand Leaders
The first discussion brought in marketing gurus of brands Choice Hotels, Fox Broadcasting Company, Jet.com and J.P. Morgan Chase, Consumer Bank. Panelists spoke about scaling data, the role marketers play in marrying digital and TV and the goal of getting better and faster in a newly data-obsessed business.

The Measurers
The second panel featured Nielsen, Adobe and Oracle/Datalogix breaking down new tools and services available to enhance marketing efforts and support audience-based, outcome-measured ads. “What you are seeing right now is a shift from media planning and buying to audience planning,” said Oracle’s Chief Marketing Officer Steven Wolfe Pereira. “CPG data is cute…but I really want to know if you bought a Coke or drive a Honda!” Props to Simulmedia for getting Adobe and Oracle to play nice together on stage.

The Media Buyers
Facebook
, Discovery Communications and Turner Broadcasting made up the final group. The big question: “How do we connect data with creative?” asked Discovery’s Executive Vice President of Ad Sales, Sharon O’Sullivan. “Data is great, but if creative fails then who cares? Let’s get the idea right first.” The conclusion was clear: data is key, but content is king.

The Million Dollar Offer
Simulmedia announced that for $1 million placed on its Audience Network for one month, it will guarantee a higher Return on Ad Spend (ROAS) against any advertiser’s designated target business outcome, compared to their coexisting TV advertising and digital base campaigns.

Surprise of the Day
Demo example Marty, a young, blue-collar worker who loves to unwind at night in front of the TV, stepped from the audience to the stage with a gripe: “There are 12 women’s shoe commercials. I want better ads!” Don’t worry, Marty, they’re coming.

Coming up in “Backstage at the Upfronts,” hitting your mailbox at 6pm

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Lynn Leahey, Editor
Roberta Caploe: Associate Publisher @robertacaploe
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