LOWDOWN ON THE UPFRONT: ABC Family Introduces 'Nikki'

During its road show presentations this spring, ABC Family has been introducing “Nikki” to advertisers and their agencies.

The hip, urban Millennial woman, portrayed by actress Jaime Coates, is the star of a series of shorts, entitled Nikki in the City, which ABC Family is looking to create.

The shorts would be developed around Nikki, a career woman with a circle of friends. A multi-tasker, Nikki embraces technology, while keeping up with the latest in pop culture, fashion and music.ABC Family is trying to persuade advertisers to integrate their products within the storylines.

Designed to air during commercial breaks, the 30-second tales will enable clients to seamlessly place their products into the short-form content, which, upon conclusion, will direct viewers to nikki-in-the-city.com, where users can screen a library of the contents, read her profile and blog entries.

This spring, advertisers have seen Nikki awkwardly ask a guy from work to go to a movie on its opening night in one short, while in another she likens the choice of two cell phones to picking between two different types of men. The stories are open-ended: a device to encourage viewers to tune in the next installment.

“There has been a good response to Nikki,” said ABC Family president Paul Lee in a phone interview. “We’re willing to produce a lot of them if advertisers are interested.”

Lee said the game plan calls for the products to be seamlessly integrated into the shorts, which will run immediately in the commercial breaks. “We have strong viewer movement into the pods and our ad message retention is strong because of our quality original, optimistic programming.”

In a study by Nielsen Entertainment, ABC Family outscored its direct competitors in those measures.

“We have quality shows that are so optimistic and our median age is 31-32. That puts us there with Millennials against MTV, The CW and VH1,” he said. “Viewers stay through the breaks and they remember the ads.”

Nikki in the City will join ABC Family’s “Tease ‘N Reveal” campaign, as part of the network’s ongoing strategy to maintain and increase audience retention during commercial breaks.