Rosenshine: Broadcasters ain't brands


Miami - Perhaps trying to liven up this week's Promax/BDA conference - neither station nor syndication executives are here in big numbers - Allen Rosenshine, CEO of ad firm BBDO, declared in Miami Wednesday that the broadcast networks do not have brands.

That's interesting considering Promax/BDA attendees, the ones that are here, have been toting around ABC-branded Promax bags with the Miami-specific slogan, "Soak in the cathode rays," written in the network's signature yellow color. Still, "ask people their favorite shows and you might get an answer," says Rosenshine. "Asking them their favorite network will get you a blank stare. It's like asking them their favorite movie theater instead of their favorite film."

He explains that because broadcasters try to reach as many people as possible, "existing under such a broad and undifferentiated mandate, they can't stand for anything." But Rosenshine realized he was going out on a limb with the crowd, noting that "after all GE is my client. And I'm telling them their NBC subsidiary isn't a brand." To ABC's and NBC's credit, he does believe ABC-skewing Wheel of Fortune and NBC's The West Wing are brands.

But cable networks, who by definition go after a smaller crowd, are different. He claims, "We don't watch a CBS, an NBC, an ABC or a Fox. But we do think of CNN when we want news."

At press time, neither ABC nor NBC executives could be reached for comment.

In other Promax/BDA news, Carole Black, Lifetime Television's CEO and president, received the 2001 Broadcasting & Cable Innovator Award. The magazine's group publisher Larry Oliver presented her the honor, which partly goes to recognize Lifetime's success in becoming the top-ranked cable network for the first time in the most recent first quarter. "I'm accepting this not on behalf of people at Lifetime, but because of the people at Lifetime," said Black. - Susanne Ault