Programming

UPFRONT & CENTER: MTVN Pitches 'Ultimate ROI'

Justin Timberlake, Lauren Conrad, Chris Rock, Samuel L. Jackson, Sarah Silverman, John Legend Appear at Cable Programmer’s Upfront Presentation 5/08/2008 06:12:00 AM Eastern

At a typically star-studded presentation, MTV Networks pitched advertisers that it could offer "Ultimate ROI," or return on innovation.

In addition to chief Viacom and MTVN executives Philippe Dauman and Judy McGrath and stars including Justin Timberlake, Lauren Conrad, Chris Rock, Samuel L. Jackson and Sarah Silverman, as well as a performance by John Legend, executives from top companies told advertisers about creative ways MTVN had showcased their brands over the past year.

A top Dove executive, introduced by The Hills' Conrad, spoke of the Fresh Takes microseries the company launched during that show's commercial breaks. A Pepsi executive talked of a mini-microseries for Mountain Dew that ran on Spike TV.

"We at Viacom and MTV Networks share the mission of finding you new ways to reach your customers," said Dauman, who kicked off the show after being introduced by Comedy Central's Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert.

"We do our best to invent, to invert to reimagine," said MTVN chair McGrath, herself introduced by Timberlake.

McGrath spoke of a "Generation P" (not to be confused with Generation O, the young, female audience Oxygen described at its own upfront), which she said was made up of young adults who expect to produce and program their own media.

"It's a new world we're working in and that definitely includes you," she added.

MTVN digital chief Mika Salmi talked up the company's efforts to program many targeted verticals and partner with outside sites in clusters he called tribes.

As were those of many cable networks, the company's show, at Times Square's Nokia Theater, was scaled back from other years, when it was held at larger venues, to reflect advertisers' desires for more information about audience demographics and creative brand integration opportunities along with the glitz.

Still, it was the stars who got the laughs. Rock, in talking up Nick at Nite, the new home for his Everybody Hates Chris series, highlighted the talking point that four out of every 10 viewers of the network had grown up watching Nick themselves. He then went off-script to clarify that that was no surprise given that "they're having kids at 16."

For anyone who didn't get it, he kindly pointed out that Nick is home to Jamie Lynn Spears series Zoey 101.

For complete coverage of the upfronts, click here.

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