Leaders & Bleeders: NBC Up, Ewanick Down
Accusations of corruption pervade the Olympics from selection of host cities to whether judges are looking to extract revenge on countries they don’t like. So, it was extraordinary Monday when NBC cameras looked to have found a smoking gun with no investigative reporting needed, no bugs planted in backrooms.
A Japanese gymnastics coach appeared as if he were openly bribing officials to change the score for his team. Millions of viewers saw him approach officials and hand over a stack of $100 bills.
The coach thought his team was ripped off when it lost points as a gymnast struggled with the pommel horse. His team had finished fourth. He wanted judges to conduct a review.
Appalled viewers still had to appreciate the chutzpah with the cash handover. London night clubs can be pricey. So, why not try to bring judges around by helping with that night’s bottle service tab?
Turns out, rules have it that when a team files a protest, the review process requires a deposit upfront. You get it back if you win.
In the end, the Japanese appeal was successful and the team landed a silver medal.
So far, there has been plenty of fodder for American pride during the Summer Games from swimming golds to the women’s gymnastics team. How about adding the primacy of the American dollar to the list? The Japanese coach didn’t offer up the pound or the yen. Even though he was in London, it was U.S. tender.
As NBC looks to be doing quite well raking in U.S. tender as the Games unfold, it’s time for this month’s Leaders & Bleeders:
1) NBC – Olympic ratings have been stellar, even with no live events in prime time. NBCUniversal chief Steve Burke said Wednesday ad sales have exceeded expectations and after projections of a loss for the Games, a break-even result is possible. Complaints about tape-delayed coverage will likely persist for three of the next four Games. But Rio in 2016 might encapsulate the Olympic spirit, bringing all factions together with marquee events airing live in prime time.
2) “FACE THE NATION” – Bob Schieffer has been hosting the CBS Sunday public affairs show since 1991, but he may be just hitting his stride. By one measure, ratings are up an impressive 8% this season in the key 25-to-54 demo. And, the show is in a virtual tie with NBC’s “Meet the Press,” which is down 15%. For now, though, due to how Nielsen calculates the numbers, it isn’t quite and apples-to-apples comparison. But that should change as CBS has just announced “Face the Nation” will permanently run a full hour.
3) VINCENT BOLLORÉ – The wealthy French investor continues to hold sway in the future of the media agency landscape, even after he didn’t combine Aegis and Havas. He cashed out in July with the sale of Aegis, the parent of Carat, to Japanese holding company Dentsu. But he continues as a leading shareholder in Havas, which includes MPG, and that holding company remains a likely acquisition target.
4) MARLEN ESPARZA – The 5-foot-3 flyweight competing in the first-ever female Olympic boxing competition is already a knockout endorsement star. Imagine if the Hispanic American takes home the gold. She’s been appearing in a touching bilingual spot for Coke during the Olympics and a funny one for McDonald’s. Also, once she takes the ring in London, a Cover Girl spot from P&G could air.
5) PHD – The Omnicom media agency has been on a roll, In July, it swooped up the Farmers Insurance account, topping incumbent Mindshare. That followed winning the massive global planning business for Unilever and the worldwide Bentley account. The new business should add to a nice 2011 when PHD upped billings 17.5%, the second-highest increase behind Maxus, according to RECMA.
1) JOEL EWANICK – It’s been a long time since a top marketing executive at a Fortune 500 company generated so much focus. In the marketing community, GM’s global CMO seemingly became a household name overnight, while courting controversy. He questioned the value of Facebook ads just before the social network's IPO; pulled GM out of the Super Bowl; and then pursued huge price reductions in the upfront. Then Sunday, he was fired with reports saying it had something to do with a Chevy sponsorship deal with Manchester United.
2) APPLE – The company is focusing its Olympic advertising on its Mac laptops, not its booming mobile devices. And the creative using a Genius Bar employee is getting ripped. Suggestions have been the ads with the genius coming to the rescue imply that Apple users are kind of clueless. A former Apple adman wrote: “These ads are causing a widespread gagging response, and deservedly so." The question is whether consumers are as disappointed as the commentariat.
3) CINCINNATI TV MARKET – The NFL has a new rule allowing teams to reduce the home-game blackout threshold from a full sellout to 85% capacity. If the Bengals took that route, local stations would have a better chance of carrying team games (there were six blackouts last year). But the Bengals reportedly are sticking with the decades-old policy that a full sellout is needed or no games on local TV. Contrast that with good news for stations in Tampa: the Bucs are going the 85% direction.
4) TWITTER/NBC SNAFU – This has been well-covered, but worth once again highlighting the misjudgments. Twitter erred in telling NBC a reporter had tweeted the corporate email address of one of its top executives. The tweeter wanted to spark complaints about NBC’s Olympics coverage. NBC then erred in asking Twitter to shut down the account. Both parties have admitted wrongdoing and lessons have apparently been learned about open information and the validity of protest.
5) CARRIAGE DISPUTES – These aren’t stopping unless Congress intervenes. Viacom-DirecTV, Hearst-Time Warner Cable, AMC-Dish all have brought blackouts. The good news for programmers and operators is Congress can’t agree on much and many of its members don’t seem to understand the issue. A blackout of Fox News or MSNBC, however, might bring an increased emphasis on Capitol Hill – at least form one party.