Skip to main content

Latin-Flavored Upfronts Deliver Santana, Superheroes, Ceviche

The 2014 Hispanic upfront season is over, and it’s clear who the winner was when it came to nourishment.

Of the 10 Spanish-language services, big and small, that splashed out for upfront events last week, Fox Hispanic Media once again provided the best food, offering its target marketers and advertisers a roast suckling pig along with ceviche and roasted chicken at the restored Diamond Horseshoe venue in the basement of the Paramount Hotel.

Kudos also go to Discovery U.S.Hispanic for having Cake BossBuddy Valastro’s input on an assortment of Latin desserts, a cornucopia of fine cheeses, Argentine snacks, and even a paleta stand with fruit pops in such flavors as passionfruit, Piña Colada, and coconut.

In contrast, Hispanic media giant Univision once again fell flat in the food department, with sliders from the famed (and fictitious) “Big Kahuna Burger” serving as a fun homage to its affiliated El Rey Network, but offering attendees with a decided lack of good lunchtime choices.

Univision also won the award for Most Embarrassing Executive Moments, with EVP of advertising “Steve-O” Mandala decked out like a 1990s-era rapper while belting out a version of Jason Derulo’s “Talk Dirty to Me” aptly renamed “Talk Spanish to Me.”

Univision also took its opinions of four executives to superhero levels by creating an “ultimate dream team” that included president of content distribution Tonia O’Connor in a role portrayed on the silver screen by Scarlett Johansson. Major plus: performances by Carlos Santana and Juanes.

NBCUniversal-owned Telemundo Media’s upfront lived up to last year’s entertainment levels, back at Jazz at Lincoln Center, closing out the pitches about NBCU connectedness and performance guarantees with a three-song performance from La Voz Kids judge and Latin pop superstar Prince Royce.

ESPN Deportes may have gone Telemundo one better on its “total market” message and Discovery U.S. Hispanic on its “feel closer” theme by offering unprecedented access to a stable of sports stars. The Wire was driven from a Manhattan apartment to the upfront venue in a Cadillac SUV with famed commentator Jorge Ramos — all the while being filmed on three GoPro cameras for airing later in the day on ESPN Deportes.

NUVOtv went for “tried and true” by repeating last year’s upfront at the Edison Ballroom, and Azteca America went with a far-less lavish affair than in 2013 by offering an open bar (sans food) at Guastavino’s for its upfront attendees. Last year it hosted a dinner at Per Se, one of New York’s finest — and priciest — restaurants. This year’s event was livened by the presence of the Azteca Youth Orchestra, conducted by composer Chacho Gaytan, though.

Overall, other than leaders Univision and Telemundo’s bashes, the 2014 Hispanic upfront events felt toned down versus last year, with smaller crowds coming out to Fox and Discovery, despite big messages that played up the networks’ importance to marketers.

Animal Planet Apes ‘Sharknado’ Approach With Lamprey Flick

It’s almost summer, which means it’s time for movies with killer fish terrorizing beachgoers and anyone else who goes near water.

But this spring it’s not sharks feeding on humans, a la Syfy’s Sharknado, but small, snake-like killers in Animal Planet’s first-ever original movie, Blood Lake: Attack of the Lampreys.

The movie, airing May 25, is part of the network’s Monster Week stunt, eight days of programming featuring destructive water-based creatures.

“It would be very hard for someone to mistake Blood Lake for a real problem and a real situation,” Animal Planet executive vice president of programming and strategy Rick Holzman said, poking fun at critiques of the network’s fake “Mermaids” documentaries. “Blood Lake is a fun new way to play in the scripted space and tap into a creature that we’ve already created and shown as a real-world monster in River Monsters, and then have some fun imagining what might become if things became out of control.”

The Discovery outlet would love to get some of the buzz Sharknado generated last summer, with Syfy seeing bigger audiences each time the movie aired. Holzman said Animal Planet tapped Sharknado producers Asylum to develop Blood Lake, and drew Beverly Hills 90210 star Shannen Doherty and Back to the Future actor Christopher Lloyd in for the B-movie horror title.

“The success of Sharknado was a real reinforcing note for us, Holzman said, adding that Animal Planet viewers are “used to real monsters and the fact that there are scary things out there in the real world, but they aren’t historically big horror movie fans.”

Syfy, meanwhile, has set July 30 as the premiere date for Sharknado 2: The Second One.

Be very afraid.

—R. Thomas Umstead