TBS-TNT

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Steve Koonin

Executive vice president/COO

Jennifer Dorian

Senior vice president, branding and business development

For a guy who is so brand-manic as to try to get a company logo etched on the moon, Steve Koonin is actually quite down to earth. His view of branding is, in fact, rather basic.

That's why, two years ago, he implemented TNT's first strategic brand positioning—"TNT: We Know Drama"—which made TNT's role in the cable world blatantly obvious.

He's at it again. This time, as TBS-TNT executive vice president and COO, he's rebranding TBS as "very funny" to showcase the network's early-evening block of off-net sitcoms. The rebranding plan was launched earlier this month.

To some degree, the campaigns help separate the two networks. To the public, TBS and TNT may have seemed to be interchangeable general-entertainment cable networks. Koonin's straightforward approach sets the record straight and plays to each network's strengths.

The moon-and-logo deal was one Koonin conjured up when he worked for Coca-Cola, 14 years before joining TNT in 2000. The public was outraged, and the plan was dropped.

The image spots for TBS, casting the network as an authority on comedy, feature a make-believe TBS telephone operator manning a comedy "help line." A wide range of callers, unsure whether something is funny, phone in for an evaluation of their case study via a funny meter. The image spots feature cameo appearances of memorable characters from the sitcoms on the network, including Seinfeld's
Soup Nazi (Larry Thomas), Sex and the City's Stanford Blatch (Willie Garson), and Friends'
Marcel the Monkey.

The centerpiece of the campaign is the commercial-TV debut of Sex and the City, which initially aired in 10 episodes over five nights earlier this month. The series began, playing in order, this week.

Koonin and Jennifer Dorian, senior vice president of branding and business development, agree that their personalities counter the stereotypical male/female roles: Koonin is the emotional, creative partner; Dorian, the analytical, tactical one.

In the same imaginative spirit it took to pitch the logo-on-the-moon concept at Coke, the always affable Koonin is clearly jazzed by the boundless creative prospects of the TNT-TBS brands.

"I don't think I've worked a day since I got here," he quips.

Dorian feels equally liberated. "It may sound corny," she says, "but I just don't feel boxed in." The job's wide-open-frontier environment, she adds, tends to spur her involvement in sponsorship, programming development, and new-business development.

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