Paramount's Fahey Rush: We're Halfway Through Our Upfront - Dinners, That Is

After years of pitching advertisers at New York's Carnegie Hall, Paramount opted instead for a series of intimate upfront dinner parties with the big agency holding companies and their clients, Paramount Chief Research Officer Colleen Fahey Rush confided in a conversation with the Advertising Research Foundation's Scott McDonald at the foundation's annual Audience X Science conference in New York Tuesday.

Fahey Rush noted that with the conclusion of tonight's fifth of nine planned dinners in New York -- as well as Chicago and Los Angeles -- Paramount will effectively be halfway done with its upfront pitching, adding that the company has gotten "a lot of positive feedback on the change in format and the experiences of these conversations and dinners" from the agency attendees.

For Paramount's upfront sales team, not so much.

“It’s kind of tiring, but you know, every single one of these partners is important to us and we want them to feel that way and to have the opportunity for us to have these conversations. And you just have to put in the time," she confided, adding, "We’ve had some really productive conversations just in the past – let’s see – one, two, three, four dinners.

Mainly, she said the dinners, while fun and entertaining themselves, are a more conducive way for Paramount to convey the depth and breadth of its media portfolio -- "from Paramount to Pluto to CBS, the No. 1 broadcast network, for 15 straight years, our amazing portfolio of cable networks, from BET to Comedy Central" -- in an intimate, in-person setting with its biggest potential spenders.

In addition to its programming offerings, she said the small dinner parties are also better suited than the grand concert hall to discuss Paramount's advertising sales and audience delivery "tech stack," as well as ways the company wants to work with the demand-side on "alternative data."

"But mostly it is about the power of the content of sports, of news, and we have the Super Bowl in February, and all these award shows. And we jut want to remind everybody of really what our portfolio is and what kind of partners we want to be," she said.

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