A Fish without Water

Whoa, I just came back from some of the upfronts and I'm beat. What an experience. For those of you who weren't there or don't go, I figured I'd give you a (cynical) peek inside the tent.

I found myself looking around Carnegie Hall, Tavern on the Green, The Garden and Grand Central Station wondering how much money these people shell out. No expense was spared. Celebrities were out in full force, executive level program directors and sales folks were chest beating, everyone claimed to dominate 18 - 49, after parties were a short bus ride away, libations were endless, and the nights went on and on.

Sitting at some of these presentations was like a sucker punch to the gut. I've been dealing with folks with short arms and deep pockets. What's an online gal to do? If I could take the food and wine tab from me and a dozen or so of my friends, that would most likely amount to more money than most have dedicated to online campaigns nowadays. Why?

Is online the first to get cut or the last to be thought of in a plan? And what's going on with these networks? Kudos to MTV and VH-1. They were the only folks to prominently display online counterparts' logos. They talked integration like they'd been there, done that. Everyone else seemed to gloss over, barely mention, or altogether skip the online offerings plug. Come on, guys. Sure, we have the threat of the mouse but you have the threat of the clicker, PVRs, and cable for chrissake.



How many of you out there are in an integrated role? Are you a part of an agency or a team that cuts multi platform deals? Do you work on creative that has consistent messaging across different vehicles? Are you dealing with reps of sites born/owned by networks?

Me, you ask? Well, yes I am. I work for a full service ad agency that looks at media holistically. We dig beyond demographics and understand the lifestyle and time demands of our prospects and consumers. I take part in strategizing broadcast, print, pr, direct, Interactive, wireless, and online media deals. The bottom line is, as creative and as ROI driven as we can be, we're like fish without water. Let's face it; we are not pacing around frenetically waiting for the "market to move." We are not rushing to get out our client's checkbooks to negotiate deep discounts for a new season.

Some have said they've created an online upfront. It's a bunch of BS, I say. I've given folks my money ahead of time. I've made early commitments for a better deal. But there is no way this is an upfront. What's it all mean? Is it realistic? Can online be predicted that far out? What happens to content? Are some of these sites stable enough to work with them in this way? Would we even want to?

We have the technology, knowledge, original content, and creative that's cutting edge. We don't hang our hats on short bursts of warped reality shows or people eating monkey brains. We don't align our ads with murder victims in the morgue or mediocre singers who want to be starts... okay, some of us do). How do we compete? Do we compete by not competing but augmenting? I don't know about you, but I sure as hell want to join the race to get committed budgets upfronts. Tell me what you think or how you've done it. Post your comments on the Spin Board. I'll be anxiously awaiting your response while I try and get a second wind from all the hoopla.

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