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7/21/2006 08:00:00 PM Eastern

Reported by P.J. Bednarski and Jim Benson

From TCA: The CW Is Seeing Green

It's not easy being green. Just ask execs at The CW. At the Television Critics Association (TCA) press tour last week, some scribes publicly cringed when The CW debuted its new promo graphics that were a distinctive, bright—and some critics thought ugly—chartreuse.

Lisa de Moraes of the Washington Post said critics “feel there is enough sadness in the world” without having to endure The CW green, which she says is a “mélange of baby-puke green and Jolly Rancher apple green.” Unfair! It's a good color (officially, it's Pantone PMS 370), and Rick Haskins, The CW's executive VP for marketing and brand strategy, also points out that, in fashion circles this fall, green is happening. “Green kind of lent itself right from the beginning,” he says.

Way back when, Haksins was a brand manager for Procter & Gamble, where he peddled toothpaste and such, so he knows packaging. And he loves this green buzz.

He learned early on that colors “say” something to consumers and they recognize products by certain color. Crest is white. Colgate is red. Tiffany is a powder blue. Hershey is brown.

(But the only network we can remember that ever adopted a color is ABC, which was bright yellow a few years ago. Nothing much else on ABC was bright at all.)

When Haskins joined The CW from Lifetime Television in March, he knew what he was going to do.

“To me,” he says, “one of the things that's very important is color. We specifically picked green because we definitely thought it was going to stand out in a very crowded marketplace. That's what it's all about. Green labels say 'fresh.' It says 'new.' I look at this as the packaging of the network. I learned at Procter & Gamble, you can't have a consumer try your product unless they can find it on the shelf.”

We looked around for information about green and found that consumers associate it with fertility, growth and rebirth. The whole plant concept is suitable for The CW, which is just sprouting.

In feng shui, we read, green represents persistence and patience—although that hasn't really worked on the press. It also is said to help with absentmindedness. Maybe it will help people remember there's a fifth network?

Haskins at one point wanted to change the name of The CW, but researchers pointed out that, within just a few months after the network was announced, The CW gained a relatively high 48% name-recognition factor, in large part because so many critics wrote what a lousy name it is.

Maybe they'll badmouth green just as successfully.

The Rush To Blog

Blogging has become so commonplace at TCA that it's not unusual to find more than two dozen critics pounding away on their laptops during interview sessions, their computers collectively emitting an eerie blue glow.

But the crush of people simultaneously expounding on this press tour may have turned a chance for thoughtful analysis of a complex medium into a veritable stream-of-consciousness event.

Wrote Tim Goodman, columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle, “a significant number of critics this year are talking less about the new series and more about the pros and cons of blogging and what it does to the critical process.

“A good portion of the assembled masses is not blogging. But a whole bunch of us are. Of that latter group, not everybody is doing it willingly, and some are having real issues with where to draw the line on letting personal minutiae get in the way of dispensing actual information or some type of critical analysis of what they are seeing.”

One critic complained to us that those who get stuck blogging are so busy trying to take down every snarky comment and provide a constant stream of trivial information that they don't have the mental bandwidth to formulate intelligent questions or provide adequate analysis.

A few scribes say the networks, often mauled by the press at these events, are getting kid-glove treatment this summer because so many writers are so busy writing. For example, NBC flew through the tour without really getting pinned down about the still-formidable holes in its schedule.

But another veteran critic says everybody's reading too much into it. “There are always critics who don't ask a lot of questions. I just think the blogging argument is a new way to explain standard TCA behavior.”

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