Upfront Notebook: ABC Touts Results of Customer Content

At ABC’s upfront Tuesday, the network let its advertising clients do some of the talking when it comes to the value of television advertising.

In a series of testimonials, executives representing brands including Toyota, Walmart, PepsiCo, Quaker Oats, Google, Aflac, Lyft, Macy’s Zyrtec, Pizza Hut and Reddi Wip talked about the ability to work with Disney’s networks to create campaigns that fit authentically with programming and generate increases in brand relevance and sales growth

“We develop and execute successful campaign with advertising partners that drive business results,” said Rita Ferro, the president of ad sales for Disney ABC.

Ferro noted that structural changes at Disney have aligned sales across the company. “This provides us the ability to be resourced to win by accelerating our advanced advertising capabilities and continue to deliver on the deep brand and engagement partnerships the Walt Disney Co. is known for,” she said.

Going forward the company would offer “more innovative opportunities, more creativity, endless possibilities, moving forward together,” Ferro said.

Campaigns incorporating Disney characters or stories—the Disney Difference—exceeded campaign goals in categories including automotive retail, packaged goods, entertainment and beverages.

“In a recent study of the Disney difference partnerships, we found that consumers who were exposed to custom content featuring our IP generated double digit lifts across every KPI,” Ferro said. Brand affinity got a 36% lift, four times the norm. Purchase intent for those exposed to branded content on digital and social platforms exceeded norms by 17%.

“We deliver reach, we deliver engagement, and most importantly we deliver results,” she said.

Ferro said Disney was developing new ad format and that it was rolling out its Luminate suite of advanced advertising offerings that use data to reach targeted audiences across Disney’s portfolio of linear, digital and social experiences.

More importantly, this year’s upfront delivered Jimmy Kimmel, who missed last year’s presentation because of his son’s illness.

Kimmel didn’t miss a step. He tore apart on of ABC’s upcoming shows, insulted the competition and questioned why some ad buyers still had the will to live.

Here’s what Kimmel had to say this year:

At the end of the presentation we’re going show you a montage of all our montages so stick around.

Hey everybody. Before we get into all this stuff, on behalf of my family I want to thank you for the outpouring of support and well wishes for my son. As many of you know I had to miss this upfront last year because he had heart surgery and I’m happy to report Billy’s now a year old. We celebrated his birthday three weeks ago.

He’s doing much, much better than network television.

This year’s upfront is going to be a little bit different. This is our first ever ABC Freeform presentation. I’ve been a big Freeform fan since uh 20 minutes ago when I learned what it was.

We have a new slogan this year at ABC. Our new slogan is Forward. Together. Hillary Clinton had a yard sale and she let us have that for almost nothing.

A big shout out to the losers stuck over at Tully Hall. You’ll get here eventually.

Somehow we have more people watching this upfront right now than most of our 10 o’clock shows.

Unlike last year, we’re not in last place. That honor belongs to Fox. I mean new Fox, now with JAZ pods. What a week it’s been for you guys. NBC gave you Jazz hands, Fox gave you JAZ pods. JAZPods sounds like something you’d use to wash leotards.

The reason Fox is calling them JAZ pods is because they wanted to find a way to shorten commercial breaks and appropriate black culture at the same time.

Fox needs help. They canceled Lucifer and the Exorcist. They can’t even make a deal with the devil.

But help is on the way. As you know, Disney, our company, is in the midst of negotiations to buy Fox. It seemed to be a done deal but then last week Comcast, like the surprise ex-boyfriend who shows up on the Bachelorette right before she’s about to get engaged. Comcast shows up and weasels their way into our business. We got Peacock-blocked is what happened.

Now it looks like there could be an epic bidding war. But mark my words if there is a war, Bob Iger will prevail. He’ll just charge it to his Black Panther card. Some of you ass-kissers started clapping at that.

How this is going to work if the sale goes through nobody seems to know. All we know for sure is that someone’s buying Fox, the Murdochs are getting richer, and everyone is redoing their kitchens with a mother fucking pasta faucet.

We have a lot riding on this merger. You can’t lose Fox and Shonda Rhimes in one year. As you know Shonda has decided to part ways with ABC. She is moving on and it’s a shame. Shonda is an amazing talent and person who changed the face of this network and now that she’s leaving for Netflix, I can honestly say on behalf of everyone here at ABC who’s been working with her for so long, we hope she rots in hell.

It’s very sad to see Shonda leave but as the old saying goes, when one door closes, you’re fucked.

We’re saying goodbye to Shondaland and we’re going headfirst into Roseanneistan.

Our biggest new hit of the year is Roseanne. Roseanne is the number one show as you’ve heard repeatedly in total viewers and the demo. So everyone who says Hollywood is out of new ideas, it’s just that one of our new ideas was to Google what were our old ideas. No one at ABC expected Roseanne to be a big hit. Although, to be honest, we don’t expect any of our shows to be a big hit.

But Roseanne’s success proves that the older and crazier you are, the more today’s audience likes you.

And that’s why we’re so proud to announce our new series, Gary Busey proves 9/11 Never Happened.

Our new strategy is resurrecting old crap. That said I have three words for you. Who’s the Boss?

I mean literally. Who the hell is running this network?

We’re not the only ones to get our greatest hits. Everyone is. Will & Grace, Fuller House. Murphy Brown’s back at CBS. That’s right CBS knows what millennials want. They’ll be damned if they give it to them. I shouldn’t say this but I have to admit I’m excited about Murphy Brown. I think it’s refreshing to see anything Brown on CBS.

NBC, they’ve been talking about rebooting The Cosby Show. Obviously they’re not going to call it that. They’re calling it The Bad Doctor.

They’re also recycling shows that other networks throw away. Fox is reviving canceled ABC shows, ABC and NBC are reviving canceled Fox shows. This is what’s known in the industry as a failure orgy. You cancel a show it doesn’t mean anything anymore. It’s like the McRib. You just wait a few months and they come back.

Sometimes enough is enough. Sometimes we have high hopes for a show and they just don’t pan out. For instance America will not see a fourth season of Quantico. In the same way, they didn’t see the second and third seasons of Quantico.

We canceled Deception, a show about a magician who uses magic tricks to help police solve crimes, which is a shame because it was such a good idea. We even canceled Marvel’s Inhumans. And that, ABC did something remarkable last year I want to acknowledge. Somehow we managed to have the only unsuccessful project with the word Marvel in the title. It had never been done before.

But this year’s going to be different. This year’s going to be so great. That was a joke. We’ve got three new comedies and five new dramas. And I warn you, some of the comedies aren’t that funny. But some of the dramas are hilarious.

We also have a new reality dating show called the proposal. The idea of the show is contestants compete to marry someone they haven’t met. It’s like the Bachelor without the Bachelor. And I haven’t seen this yet but it sounds to me like this isn’t a dating show so much as it is a thinly veiled sex trafficking operation.

Actually, it’s very similar to these upfronts because you guys are opening your hearts or wallets to a slate of shows you know literally nothing about. Will they be good, will they be terrible? You really won’t find out until you’re already fucked.

Nathan Fillion as you saw is back with a new cop show called The Rookie, which is great news if you were worried your aunt Jo Ann wouldn’t be horny enough this fall.

We’re also picking up a show called Whiskey Cavalier, which we’ll learn about in moments and it’s exciting because it took a while, we finally came up with a title worse than Cougar Town.

Whiskey Cavalier is described as a high-octane hour-long action dramedy that follows the adventures of tough but tender FBI Super-Agent Will Chase whose codename is Whiskey Cavalier. Should we cancel it now or would you rather wait.

Many of our shows from last season are coming back, whether you want them to come back or not. This will be our 23rd season of the Bachelor, our 27th season of Dancing with the Stars and later this year, Grey’s Anatomy will become the longest running drama in ABC history. Grey’s was renewed for a 15ths season. And how do they keep going? With fresh ideas and stories that have never before been told on television. Like this.

He rolls a clip from Grey’s.

One of the doctors says: “If you swallowed something Diane, you need to let us know otherwise you’ll get very, very sick.” The patient says “I didn’t swallow it!” BANG, a shot rings out. Patient in next bed: “I’ve been shot. I’ve been shot.” Doctors: “.Did you put a gun in your vagina?”

Ladies and gentleman, Shonda Rhimes’ final show before she leaves the network.

NBC is touting an all-Chicago Wednesday, Chicago Med, Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, all in one Chicago night. I have an idea for a show: Chica-Go to another fucking city already. You ever heard of Denver? They have a fire department too.

NBC also says they’re cutting back on commercials. Their plan is to ad 10% fewer ads in primetime. They need that extra time so Law and Order SVU can have one more cab driver per episode who says the victim was a nice lady.

Fox is cutting their commercial time too. And it’s probably smart. You know Netflix cut their commercial time down to none and they’re doing great I guess. But everybody goes crazy binging all this programming and I’ll tell you something, maybe I’m old fashioned. I don’t like watching a show straight through with no commercials. I need a break every nine minutes so I can breathe and learn about Chobani yogurt.

I guess there’s no going back. More people are streaming content than ever before. There was a new report from Nielsen. Adults age 25 to 54 watch 2 hours and 28 minutes of streaming content per day. What they don’t mention is that at least an hour of that is porn.

Young people are abandoning traditional television in droves. They’re not just cutting the cord. They’re eating the placenta.

We are definitely not down with OTT. We need to bring these millennials back to television. Millennials for those who are not familiar are the people responsible for the smell of strawberry vape smoke in every Uber. Those are the people we need back.

Millennials, they have no idea how good they have it with all these choices. We didn’t have choices. Remember when we didn’t give a shit what was on TV. Frasier again? Fine, what am I going to do, read?

But what they didn’t have back then was the ability to target specific types of viewers. This year more than ever we have so many ways to reach your customers. You’re going to hear a lot about blockchain this week. And here’s what’s important about it. Nobody has any idea what it is. You don’t know. We definitely don’t know. But what we do know is that we’re going to charge you up the ass for it.

Our technology gets more advanced every year. We’re on the verge of having data that is so specific we will be able to blackmail viewers into using your product. Imagine how many cases of Budweiser your customers will buy to stop you from revealing they actually watched Man with a Plan.

There’s so much technology, so much terminology, there are so many shoppable moments, you know? If anyone here has used the words retargeting, brand purpose or vertical anything today, please raise your hand, stand up and walk out into traffic. Do it for yourself.

That said, we promise you this. At ABC our programmatic ad tech attribution models are retargeting SSPs using AI and omnichannel blockchain algorithms to offer hyper local content amplification with an optimized CPR and ROI that will make you S-H-I-T your P-A-N-T-S.

I don’t know what I just said, but it seems to have resonated.

Let’s be honest. This is all nonsense. Our ratings are going down and our price is going up. Too bad. Eat it. We’re four years from having our brains digitally fused to our Instagram accounts. Here’s what I think we should do. Just let these stupid shows wash over us, clap politely, and then let’s just go get blackout drunk together OK. Our president is a lunatic and we’re all going to die.

If this continues you know what it’s going to say on our headstones? It’s not going to say RIP any more. They’re going to say KPI. And you want that? I know I don’t.

Let’s not do this again next year. Thank you for listening. And I wish you all a Whiskey Cavalier.

When Kimmel was done, ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey had to return to the stage to present her mid-season shows, including Whiskey Cavalier.

The stars of the show—Scott Foley and Lauren Cohan—didn’t quite know how to proceed after being lambasted by Kimmel. “Can we start off by thanking him? That’s brutal,” Foley said. He later explained the show’s title was his character’s FBI code name, to which Cohan added, “For now.” “Please, God, roll the clip,” Foley said.

After the clip aired, Dungey said. “When we’re here celebrating season 10 of Whiskey Cavalier we’re going to bring Jimmy back out here and then we’ll talk about it.”

Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.