A+E Moves Audiences to Action Through Creative Solutions


Cynopsis Medias First Morning Read
Tuesday March 12, 2024

A+E: Where Artful Storytelling Meets Targeting Science

By: E.B. Moss

As our industry moves more into audience-based and data-driven solutions, David DeSocio, EVP of Ad Sales Marketing & Partnerships makes a case that in our data-driven world, creativity and storytelling remains a crucial element. Especially in a crowded media landscape, “emotional resonance and quality content are more crucial than ever,” he suggests. To successfully deliver business outcomes and engagement, DeSocio advises a blend of advanced targeting AND creative storytelling. “Working together can help ensure both long-term brand benefits and immediate sales results that today’s marketplace requires,” DeSocio says.

DeSocio’s team is leveraging A+E’s multiplatform ecosystem, relationships with renowned talent, and commitment to original content to build innovative campaigns to further drive connection with viewers and drive results for advertisers. He shared A+E’s approach to super-serving sponsors with what he described as “original solutions fueled by original content.”


Original Solutions Fueled by Original Content
A+E punches above its weight in the content game with 2000+ hours of original content being produced this year. The breadth and depth of that content, and the fact that A+E owns their IP, fuels their ability to provide advertisers with unique opportunities to reach and connect with their audiences.

Client brand stories can then be customized and amplified across A+E’s dispersed distribution endpoints to engage audiences everywhere they are viewing content. As DeSocio puts it, “It’s not enough to just be on those platforms. You want to do things that are interesting and unique to those platforms, too, that enable our partners to cut through the clutter and create engagement that is immediate, buzzworthy, and measurable.”

While measures like brand awareness and affinity are important, DeSocio notes, “it’s just as important that the ideas deliver a behavioral benefit – whether it’s to get the viewer to learn more, ‘click here,’ put us in their consideration set, or make a purchase.” That’s where A+E’s suite of performance solutions and research innovations comes into play, measuring the business outcomes that matter most for clients and their campaign.


A+E’s unduplicated cross-platform reach covers almost two-thirds of the US. “We might find a client’s audience on Lifetime, on HISTORY or on one of our digital or social platforms. More often than not, it’s a combination. But, we always start by asking: ‘Who are you trying to reach and what is the message or behavior you’re looking to influence?’ Clients might tell us, ‘We are looking for auto intenders, we are looking for first time home buyers, or mothers of teenagers.’ Wherever the audience is, that drives the solution. Recent results confirm our social platforms’ ability to amplify campaigns quickly.” An audience-first mentality drives the programming, creative solutions, and platforms that A+E provides, guided by a formula that moves from audience to activation to amplification and finally, analysis.

A+E is also focused on creating efficiencies for their partners through access to their award-winning branded content production unit, in-house studios and a dedicated team of producers, directors, and writers.


The Company You Keep
“Another pillar of our company is best-in-class client service,” DeSocio says, with the pride of someone who works at a company that has been rated by Newsweek as a “Best Place to Work” many times over. “Our size and focus,” he adds, “allow A+E to be flexible and nimble. The goal is to make partnering with us as productive and seamless for clients as possible. One multidisciplinary team creates the idea, brings it to life, activates the platforms, and develops the measurement plan. We like to think of ourselves as ‘your partner in growth.’” This relates to a promise A+E boldly put out into the marketplace that they guarantee results or business outcomes. Those outcomes are as diverse as measuring online visits, foot traffic, search, lead generation or direct purchase.

Tactically Speaking
In some cases, the art is also pushing boundaries. “Our group has been a leader in new formats and new lengths,” explains DeSocio. “The right solution might be a 30-second spot but more complex, brand stories require different solutions.”

Case in point, pharma giant GSK had a detailed and nuanced story to tell about vaccines for meningitis B. That story was targeted towards parents of teenage children and resulted in a fully executed 17-minute “brand film.”

“The extended content we created for GSK allowed us to do multiple things,” says DeSocio. “The challenge was to create awareness and explain the nuances of both the disease and the vaccines. To do this in a meaningful way required more than additional time, it also required sensitivity…we heard the incredibly moving stories of families who had survived and families who have lost loved ones to meningitis B.” The creative featured famous, real-life moms, Soleil Moon Frye and Melissa Joan Hart. Viewers experienced their journey as they sat with doctors and queried, ‘What questions do I ask when I go into the office and what should I be thinking of?’

The results of the campaign indicated that the audience not only felt informed, but also more comfortable asking their doctor these important questions. “We heard reports of people making doctor’s appointments after looking at that creative,” DeSocio says, “and deciding what was right for their family. That’s powerful.”

Proof of Talent Performance
A+E is cognizant of results even when making casting decisions. DeSocio explains how the data bears out the value of good casting: “Being thoughtful about who’s telling the story, both in front of and behind the camera, allows us to connect with consumers on a deeper and more meaningful level. And it pays dividends. They reward you with their attention, their business, and their loyalty. People say, ‘I can relate to this campaign, I can relate to this talent and therefore can relate to this brand.’ They recognize brands that reflect their lives, and they appreciate that effort.”

This past holiday season, A+E created a branded content campaign for Campbell’s featuring Tatyana Ali and Buddy Valastro. “We told the story of a mother connecting with her autistic child through cooking. Campbell’s Soup provided a simple dinner that this mom and child could prepare and experience together,” says DeSocio. “Of course, you saw the soup and its varieties, but more importantly, you saw a reflection of Campbell’s values…bringing families together, and celebrating the holidays.”

This six-minute piece told an emotional and powerful story of connection. Then, A+E amplified the campaign on TikTok with the same talent sharing recipe videos. TikTok spotlighted a very different side of the Campbell’s brand, highlighting practical tips and recipes for families during the holiday season.

The importance of casting is apparent in examples such as the Campbell’s campaign, where the role of an autistic young man was filled by an autistic actor (and with the oversight and guidance of their partner, Best Buddies International, the national organization for autism). DeSocio also recalls the importance of hiring an African American production company to helm their most recent work for Ancestry when they were targeting African-American families.

The End Game
Embracing brand values, communicating with empathy and emotion, and being mindful of where your consumer can be found are all essential ingredients to the equation. DeSocio reminds us: “It’s hard to go wrong if you listen to and follow your consumer. That’s where you make the connection. The content plays a part, the environment plays a part, and the brand benefits plays a part. But in the end, it starts and ends with the consumer. Did you tell a story that was authentic and worth their time and attention? If you did, the results are sure to follow.”

Cynopsis Team

Robbie Caploe
VP/Group Publisher
[email protected]

Lynn Leahey
Editorial Director
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Kerry Smith
Division President
Access Intelligence

Albert Nassour
Executive Director of Sales
[email protected]

Stephanie Cronk
Senior Marketing Director
[email protected]


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Rob Hudgins

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