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NBCU Taking Fandom Message to Cannes Lions Festival

NBCU Fandom
NBCU's fandom message (Image credit: NBCU)

One of the highlights of NBCUniversal’s upfront presentation at Radio City Music Hall last month was a song-and-dance number showing how attached Bravo fans are to the shows and their stars.

Next week, NBCU is taking a version of its BravoCon across the Atlantic to the Cannes Lions Festival where a series of BravoCannes events will demonstrate how advertisers can tap into the fandom that NBCU’s content engenders.

Leading up to the upfront NBCU did a lot of talking about data and ad tech, but the company’s “secret sauce” is the power of its content to drive fans, NBCU Advertising & Partnerships CMO Josh Feldman told Broadcasting+Cable

“Fandom is what makes it important,” Feldman said. “Our digital and social competitors out there, they can talk about scale, but they can’t talk about passionate viewers.”

Having fans is good business because there a difference between watching a 30-second video of someone tumbling down stairs and an episode of Bel Air, said Yusuf Chuku, executive VP, client strategy & insights at NBCU Advertising & Partnerships, who said that his family gathers to watch the Peacock original drama.

“That’s our show. It gets our son out of his bedroom to sit with my wife and I and watch. We all come together. We are huge fans of the show," Chuku said.

Brands can take advantage of the attachment fans have to NBCU content, whether it’s on Bravo or Peacock, NBC Sports or Saturday Night Live.

“We did some research and  found that love for our brand is 19% higher than the competition,” Chuku said. “Therefore our IP creates higher emotional engagement that is actually 25% higher than our closest competitor. And we know that brand preference decisions are based on emotional engagement. In fact 80% of brand decisions are made off emotional engagement. 

NBCU hooked up willing viewers at home to devices that measured their galvanic responses to measure emotional response.

“We found our commercial airtime is 93% as engaging as the content itself,” Chuku said. “What’s happening is people are primed to respond to advertising. It just points to the power of our content that’s available for brands to tap into.”

Chuku published a blog post on fandom Thursday.

Feldman said that taking advantage of fandom is a place where creativity comes in.

“It’s not one size fits all,” Feldman said 

“We try to build the right solution and be consultative in nature based on what an advertiser is really looking to accomplish,” he said. “We’re using fans as a big, broad term, but the fans of Syfy are different from the fans of Bravo, which are different from the fans of Bel Air. So we need to speak to them authentically in the right way , in the right voice with the right connection point.”

With Bravo its possible to build a 360 degree live experience like Bravocon, where fans can meet Bravo-lebrities and line up to buy the products they create. The event is bolstered by NBCU other assets, with stories on the Today Show and Access Hollywood and E! doing red carpet coverage.

“We’re able to blow out an experience like BravoCon in a massive way. But that’s because Bravocon is so unique in nature and fans react in certain ways,” Feldman said.

NBCU is turning Cannes into a mini-BravoCon, with Andy Cohen doing a version of Watch What Happens Now with some of his Real Housewives and a Below Decks yacht party with Boy George as DJ and performer.

Feldman said he and his colleague will be working hard on the Riviera. “We have close to 100 client meetings set up throughout the week and we have the different events that we're going to be doing at two different locations, Feldman said, adding, “we will be able to see the beach in the background while we're doing that.”

Cannes presents a unique environment and audience, compared to CES or the upfront, where NBCU also meets with clients.

Cannes gives NBCU a chance “to bring these types of opportunities to the creative community directly and have conversations that are not about commoditization, but about truly building up opportunities for the brands that they represent in long-term creative conversations," Feldman said. “We're not just meeting with the same people that we always meet with in a different location. We're meeting with different people based upon it being a creative celebration.” ■

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.