ABC News

GMA, World News battle toward the top
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Alan Ives, VP and creative director; Diane Brenner, director and senior producer, affiliate news promotion

Sometimes a branding campaign can capture the mood of not only a single show but an entire network. When ABC launched a new promotional campaign for Good Morning America in February, the network’s creative team decided to fashion a kind of music video, combining images of Diane Sawyer, Charles Gibson and other top talent with music from rising country vocalist Julie Roberts, who sings the show’s tagline, “Good To Go.”

That feel-good message certainly sums up the buoyant mood at ABC, which has seen its ratings soar this year, helped by Desperate Housewives. On the news side, Good Morning America has racked up its best ratings since 1992 and is now close to toppling NBC’s long-dominant Today show. In the evening, World News Tonight won both February and May sweeps.

Successful branding campaigns for both GMA and World News Tonight have resulted in a Brand Builders Award at this week’s Promax for two ABC executives: Alan Ives, the VP and creative director of ABC News Advertising and Promotion, and Diane Brenner, director and senior producer of affiliate news promotion at ABC Affiliate Marketing.

Ives, a 19-year ABC veteran, has put together the team responsible for developing ABC’s branding campaigns and messages. Brenner, who reports to John Nuzzi, VP of ABC Affiliate Marketing, handles affiliate marketing for the ABC News programs.

While Brenner does not work directly with Ives’ team, Ives thinks her work with local affiliates is crucial: “What we’ve achieved wouldn’t be possible without her efforts.”

He stresses that it is easier to promote a product that has something going for it. “It all starts with a terrific, breakout show,” he says, speaking about GMA. “Honesty and trust are the foundation of any branding message. Too often, marketing folks come up with a clever idea that doesn’t necessary fit the show.”

The music video with images of GMA talent and the new tagline demonstrated that GMA can be both fun and serious, Ives says. It is intended to convey an “optimistic feeling that will help viewers start the day,” he adds.

With World News Tonight, Ives and his team faced very different branding issues and opportunities. In 2004, a year when two broadcast-network anchors stepped down and mainstream media outlets faced increased public scrutiny, ABC News launched a branding and promotional campaign featuring the tagline “Trust Is Earned.” The campaign, relying heavily on images of Peter Jennings, “was designed to remind people that we’ve earned people’s trust,” Ives says.

That trust has also sustained the news program following Jennings’ absence due to his battle with lung cancer. “We won the May sweeps for the second straight year without him,” says Ives, who adds that Jennings continues to set the show’s editorial direction. “We are very happy that Peter will be coming back to the No. 1 newscast.”

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