Anatomy of a Rebrand: Media Agency Background Helps Jen Neal Market E!
By John Consoli -- Broadcasting & Cable, 10/18/2012 12:38:31 PM
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 network.
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 role.
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.
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