Commentary

Waiting For The 'I Love Lucy' Moment

Few television shows generated as many spirited, laughter-filled discussions as the classic Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz program "I Love Lucy." During its six-year run, people would go out of their way to spend that half-hour with Lucy, just so that they could recall their favorite moments the next day with their friends or co-workers. Quite simply, Lucy became part of our national discourse. Around our offices, we affectionately refer to this as the "I Love Lucy" moment.

I was a part of a panel discussion at ad:tech New York last Wednesday addressing the fact that consumers -- and advertisers -- are now dealing with the reality that content can be consumed by using a number of different devices. Thanks to this new world we live in, the "I Love Lucy" moment can potentially happen anytime, anywhere.  

But for whatever reason, it has not happened online... yet. Still, while we're not at the point where viewers are consuming online video exclusively, there's been significant growth. A June 2010 study by the Pew Research Center in Washington D.C. revealed that seven out of ten adult Internet users have viewed or downloaded video content.

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In other words, the online "Lucy" moment may not be as far off as some may want you to think.

And when the right programming comes along to make it happen, it will mean nothing but bad news for the traditional television advertising model, one that essentially consists of throwing out 30- or 60-second spots and praying that something resonates with a consumer. It's good news, though, for those who are ahead of the curve and understand the power of a new digital broadcast model.

As this trend continues and we march towards that all-important first online "Lucy" moment, forward-thinking marketers must demonstrate the ability to recognize the importance of what I call smart reach, or associating themselves with excellent content while delivering relevant advertising at the right time for the right audience.

And as it stands, smart reach is a luxury that the current broadcast television advertising model just can't afford.

6 comments about "Waiting For The 'I Love Lucy' Moment".
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  1. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, November 10, 2010 at 3:37 p.m.

    Even more amazing, Lucy had a hilarious show without resorting to rude language. I suppose it was a simpler time, but I miss tuning in TV sitcoms without hearing language you wouldn't accept from your 10-year-old.

  2. Rufus Dogg from DogWalkBlog, November 10, 2010 at 3:53 p.m.

    You are missing the one huge component in the early days of television that we will never get back; a shared event experience. That is, never was and never will be an "anytime, anywhere" thing. When everything is available anytime, anywhere and individualized, shared experience has almost no value. It's not about content but context. We were each other's context. We are no longer.

  3. Chris Stinson from Non-Given, November 10, 2010 at 3:55 p.m.

    A "I Love Lucy" moment just happens.
    Too many are trying too hard to create the moment.

    It's not about what you missed and why you should watch next time to see what might happen, in the on-line age nothing is unique or in past tense - you link, copy, reuse and repeat, everywhere everyplace and cram it into every nook and cranny you can.

    That will not make "it" happen.

    Just make it good, unique and limited and it MIGHT happen.

  4. Joe Kelly from Triad Consulting Corporation, November 10, 2010 at 6:25 p.m.

    Great insight. What is ruining TV is the demise of the 60 second commercial and the avalanche of clutter ...not just shorter commercials but more commercial time per hour plus endless promotional announcements and network identification. Back to the good old days when networks ran 6 commercial minutes per hour!

  5. Greg Regis from Scripps Networks, November 16, 2010 at 10:48 a.m.

    It won't happen. When Little Ricky was born about 75-80% of the people in the U.S. who could see it, did see it. There might have been less Americans watching the news on 9/11 2001. The world is different. Unfortunately, though not surprisingly, all the Facebooks and YouTube's in the world won't be able to recreate that more "connected" world of "Lucy". There were less people, watching less ads in a country that was growing and not walking, head down, "talking" on their many devices about growth. At the onset of HBO's scripted glory years, there was a show named "Dream On". The main character had an incredibly rude admin. She asked for a personal day off and he, trying to be caring, asked: "Is everything OK". She responds, in only the way that someone who has complete contempt for your weak attempt at making a connection, says: "It's PERSONAL!" Sorry advertisers. Personalized media killed your "Lucy" moment.

  6. Paula Lynn from Who Else Unlimited, November 17, 2010 at noon

    While those wait for a Lucy moment of the 50's, they can also wait for the 91% tax rate with no regulation of resources where industry can throw anything they want wherever they want. The 50's with I Love Lucy has evolved. Remember, too, Lucy was not allowed to work; she did it without her husband's permission.

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