NBC: Leno Top Marketing Priority

Network considers positioning primetime Leno as companion to news programming

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Sorry, Conan O'Brien, but NBC says Jay Leno is its top marketing focus for 2009.

“Leno is the single most important marketing priority of the year,” says NBC Entertainment Marketing President Adam Stotsky. “We are deploying the necessary resources and bringing out the heavy creative guns.”

Stotsky hints that one potential positioning will be as an accompaniment to the network's news programming. “He [Leno] likes to talk about this as a broadcasting brand. You can start your day getting informed on topical issues with Today, get deeper insight with Nightly News and Brian Williams, and then laugh about the news at 10 with Leno.”

Leno's ability to break news—from Arnold Schwarzenegger announcing his candidacy for governor of California back in 2003, to President Obama's recent appearance to discuss the AIG bonus scandal—is being viewed seriously by rival cable news networks and by local stations with 10 p.m. newscasts.

“Whether or not we'll source audience away from 10 p.m. news remains to be seen,” Stotsky says. “One of the hallmarks of his comedy is his ability to talk about the issues of the day in a way that's fun and entertaining.”