Skip to main content

Anatomy of a Rebrand: Media Agency Background Helps Jen Neal Market E!

It's been a little more than three months since E!
Entertainment Television introduced its new on-air look, logo and the tagline
"Pop of Culture," pledging to become less celebrity-driven by
expanding its programming base into more diverse areas of cultural relevancy
that extend beyond Hollywood.

One formulator of the rebrand was media agency veteran Jen
Neal, who began working with E! in January as a consultant when the new
look and philosophy began to take shape. In June, Neal was hired as executive
VP, marketing, where she now oversees all department initiatives for the

With the framework for the rebranding already chartered by
NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment chairman Bonnie Hammer and E! president
Suzanne Kolb, Neal originally joined the team to offer her expertise and
perspective from the advertiser and consumer side of the fence.

Before taking on her consulting role, Neal had served as
chief marketing officer at BBDO North America and prior to that was executive VP,
managing partner for media agency PHD, where she worked with TV clients such as
Discovery Networks and HBO. She also worked on the marketing side at the NBA
and WNBA.

Since joining E! full time, Neal has been busy with an
assortment of different projects as the network begins to promote its new look
and programming strategy to advertisers and viewers. She took some time to
discuss her move from the agency side to the network and the depth of her new

What kind of
adjustment has this move to the TV network side been?

In every new job you take, there is a learning curve. It hasn't been easy
or hard, just different. On the agency side you have to represent multiple
clients and multiple brands whose goals may be different. Now I just have to
work to market one network. I've always loved television and its multiple
platforms. On the agency side, I saw only a small portion of the TV business
from the outside. Now I see all of it from the inside.

How does your
agency background help you in this job?

On the agency side, you learn about strategy and consumer insight and how
you can reach consumers in the right places. So that's similar to what I'm
doing here. I have also worked closely with TV network clients at PHD like
Discovery Network and with HBO. So I do know how they wanted to market
themselves. So I have a background in the entertainment space. And with
marketing, it's all about reaching the consumer with the right message, whether
you are marketing a product or a network.

How would you
describe your job as executive VP of marketing?

I'm responsible for leading the global brand evolution of the network.
Rolling out all the marketing initiatives, creative development, promotion and
brand alliances, including advertising and media strategies for the network.

How involved were
you with the rebranding of the network?

Bonnie Hammer and Suzanne Kolb were very involved in the initial stages of
planning the rebranding when I came in as a consultant. They were looking for a
more modern, fresh, energetic brand identity. I got involved in the process
beginning in January of this year, about six months before I was officially
brought on staff. So I helped spearhead everything for the brand evolution,
which included strategy, the creative look and feel and tagline development. It
was perfect for me to be part of that and then to join the company to implement
all of it when I came on board. I was officially hired in June and the brand
evolution light switch was turned on in July.

What is the target
audience of the rebranded network?

We are going after a dual audience of men and women, with a median age of
around 34 being the sweet spot. We want to target viewers who are pop culture
enthusiasts that keep up with the latest trends in entertainment, fashion,
music, movies, arts.

In your role of
marketing for the network, do you also work with the sales department to help
them bring advertisers in?

My sales marketing team comes up with integrated marketing plans to help
the sales side sell advertising. What helps is that having been on the agency
side, I know what ad clients are looking for in media so I can use that
knowledge to help our sales side.

Have you reached
out to any of the advertisers that you once represented while you were on the
agency side?

It's always good to have friends in the business. I have always kept a
network of people who I've work with over the years. Whether I am doing it
one-on-one or working with our sales or marketing teams, I am still having
dialogue with a lot of those people.

You're based in Los
Angeles. Does that matter when most of the media agency headquarters offices
are in New York?

In today's digital age, you can work with anyone from anywhere. So from
L.A., I can work with agencies from all over the country. Geography is no
barrier. Plus, with the new direction of E! focusing on pop culture,
Los Angeles is at the center of that world. In many ways, it
is the pulse of pop culture.

What has been the
marketing focus of the network since the rebranding light switch was turned on
in mid-July?

We continue to bring the E! brand's new look and feel across every consumer
touch point. On the air and digitally we are continuing to evolve to bring our
theme of pop culture alive in the minds of viewers. I was most recently
involved in marketing Chelsea Handler's move to her new [Chelsea Lately] studio. We worked to develop the on-air promotion
and promoting the guest appearances. On the first show in her new studio, she
had Jennifer Aniston as her guest, who gave her first interview since her
engagement. Also in conjunction with the move, to draw viewer interest, we
conducted an online auction and made available stuff from her old set. We
promoted that with social media pushes and content on our website, along with
on-air spots.

What will be your
next big marketing push?

Whitney Cummings has a new weekly talk show that will be starting in
November. So we are preparing a marketing campaign for that. A sizable
portion of our audience enjoys comedy with shows like Chelsea Lately, The  Soup and Fashion Police.
Whitney's show will give us another comedy voice. We do have a lot of
interesting things planned for the coming months but I can't discuss them
publicly at this point.

E! has two major live
events coming up early next year-the red carpet pre-shows for the
Golden Globe Awards in January and the Grammy Awards in February. When do you start promoting those two shows?

We'll begin promoting those telecasts in
December and build up in the final two weeks before each of the events to let
people know that E! is the destination for both red carpet shows.