A Touch Of Quality

Kolb gives individual identities to E! and Style networks

E! Entertainment Television enjoys a high profile, thanks to its celebrity coverage and more than 90 million subscribers. It generates more profit and revenue than any of the other Comcast-owned cable networks, which together provided $387 million in revenue during the first quarter. Shows like True Hollywood Story and The Soup help the network attract some 80 million viewers a month.

All of which begs the question: How do you build a brand that comes with a built-in exclamation point?

Still, E!'s luster had faded a bit. Says Ted Harbert, president/CEO of Comcast Entertainment Group, “E!, when I got here, had sort of a more tawdry, more downscale view of the entertainment business. And we wanted to class it up.”

Enter Suzanne Kolb, executive VP of marketing and communications, who restored a shine to the brand by shifting its emotional focus. “It is now much more about us positioning a category that people just love,” she explains. Also on her plate was increasing awareness of sibling network Style, which has 56 million subscribers.

“When I first got here, frankly, I felt like [E! and Style] were treated a little bit with the same brush, rather than considering what the individual personalities were,” says Kolb. “Creating those individual brand personalities in a way that is sustainable and promotable—that's what I am most proud of.”

Harbert, who describes Kolb as a “confidante” and one of his five favorite people in the “universe,” cannot say enough about her work on Style: “The awareness of Style has increased exponentially.”

Ratings have doubled, according to Harbert. He considers Kolb's biggest achievement to have been “the launch of Ryan Seacrest and making him the face of the network.” Kolb notes that, even with Seacrest, the network faces competitive pressure from celebrity-news Websites, such as TMZ.com.

Asked if he could draw a direct line between Kolb's marketing efforts and ratings increases, Harbert says, “Oh yeah, I've studied that line for my 30 years in the business. With Suzanne, I can prove the impact.”

“Everything she does,” he adds, has a touch of quality and class that we didn't have before, and that's worth its weight in gold.”