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MEDIACOM Marketing Digest October 12 2004

12 October 2004

MEDIACOM Marketing Digest October 12 2004

Coming to the Small Screen TV3 launched its new programmes last week, with a presentation long on style (an extended rap by Beastie Boys clones) and short on substance (we were told very little about the programmes). So MediaCom to the rescue, with a rundown on what's about to hit the small screen, later this year and into 2005:

CSI: New York The hottest show of the new US season, CSI:NY began screening on CBS on September 22, and achieved the unthinkable, outperforming longtime crime champion Law & Order in a straight head-to-head clash. CSI:NY is, of course, the newest stablemate of CSI and CSI: Miami, and follows the exploits of forensics investigators in The Big Apple. Gary Sinise heads the cast, and after viewing the first episode we can tell you that the show is a worthy addition to the CSI canon: gritty, compelling and contemporary. Perhaps inevitably, there's even a 9/11 connection: the wife of Sinise's character was a victim. Our verdict: definite Kiwi Hit.

Boston Legal Last season, this show was called The Practice, and it had been struggling in the ratings after an eight year run. Enter sleazeball attorney Alan Shore (played by James Spader), goodbye to five of the leads ... and the show jumped up 8%! Now we're seeing an even more extreme makeover, and a change of name ... and the new show (launched ten days ago in the States) has won its timeslot two weeks in a row. We've only had a chance to sample the first episode, but it is, as promised, darkly comedic and definitely off-the-wall. Ethics are not a strong suit in Boston Legal. Our Verdict: not a runaway hit, but could perform respectably in the right timeslot.

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The Rebel Billionaire Richard Branson takes on the Donald Trump role in this Apprentice/Amazing Race amalgam. The spin: a group of young adventurers are on an epic journey around the world, reliving some of The Richard's more colourful adventures. Each week one candidate gets left behind as the rest of the group jets off to their next adventure. Won't make its debut in America until next month. Our Verdict: has the right squirm factor, should do well in a good timeslot.

Medical Investigation This show taps into the current fascination with forensics, without the crime, and follows the exploits of deadly disease specialists from the National Institutes of Health - a team whose task is to reconstruct medical crises, identify hazards and develop solutions before incidents turn into epidemics. Launched in the US early last month, and has posted respectable ratings. Our Verdict: a good solid drama, kept our interest right through till the end, should achieve reasonable success in the NZ marketplace.

INXS Rockstar Think American Idol on steroids. The concept: to find a new lead singer for INXS by spanning the planet for talent. Beginning next month, producers will audition contestants in six continents and 22 cities. The top contestants will fly to Hollywood to live together in a mansion and sing each week in a live contest. The winner will record an album with INXS and then tour the world. Rockstar will initially air in July 2005 on CBS, so expect TV3 to start immediately afterwards, to avoid that horrible Internet Leak Syndrome. Our Verdict: how could anybody mess this up? A surefire winner, even without Simon Cowell.

Listen Up Jason Alexander demonstrates once again that without Jerry Seinfeld he just isn't primetime material. The concept of this latest endeavour: Jason as journalist and sports talkshow co-host, accompanied by standard annoying sitcom family, smartmouthed teenage daughter. The US ratings are already on the slide, despite the fact that Listen Up is the lead-in to the final season of Everybody Loves Raymond. Our Verdict: we couldn't stand watching a complete episode, even though it was only half-an-hour, but had to fast-forward through the smarm. Guaranteed to crash and burn.

Complete Savages Anyone remember My Three Sons? Substitute Keith Carradine for Fred MacMurray, increase the body count to five teenage boys, toss in Mel Gibson and a couple of Simpsons writers as exec producers. The kids fill all the stereotypes: dumb musclehead jock, good looking popular kid, nervous smart kid, etc. Sound like a recipe for disaster? Surprisingly, the show's picked up a number of favourable reviews, but its ratings are disappointing. Our Verdict: probably a fizzer.

Battlestar Galactica This new version of the iconic 80s scifi series carries on where the mini-series left off last year. Something of an acquired taste, and the series will need more depth if it stands a chance of lasting more than a season. Set to launch in January in the US. Our Verdict: a marginal performer in New Zealand, like all scifi shows.

Outrageous Fortune A new local drama, about a one-family crime wave with a proud tradition in thievery. One day, Mum decides it all has to change, and this show follows the family as they attempt to stay out of crime. This new 13 part series, to be produced by South Pacific Pictures, is being optimistically tipped as a Kiwi version of Sopranos and has already earned the Outrageous Fortune title by attracting $5.3 million in funding from NZ On Air. The series won't begin shooting until early next year, so it's rather too soon to deliver any verdict on its merits. Still, we live in hope ...

The Jury The concept: you're inside the jury room as jurors weigh up the merits of a case, complete with histrionics, begging and persuading. The reality: a short-lived series that ran earlier this year on Fox, but was quickly cancelled. The Verdict: will vanish without a trace.

Other new series coming up on TV3:

* Kath & Kim make the leap across from the state broadcaster. * Trading Spouses: reality TV gone mad, as mums and dads try out the ultimate life change. * Method & Red: hip-hop comedy stars moving into an upmarket 'hood. * Related by Family: the ultimate mall slackers show, all about teens who work and hang out at the mall food court. Launching the US January 2005 * House: Hugh Laurie as a cantankerous doctor who solves medical mysteries (yet to screen on US TV). * Law & Order: Trial By Jury: the fourth variant of the evergreen legal franchise. * The Inside: she seems to be a teen high school student, but she's actually a federal agent trying to bust a drug ring (oh really?). * And finally, in the spirit of Tru Calling et al., meet The Medium, a 30-year-old housewife and mother of three, who can communicate with the dead - oh, and call also read the thoughts of the living, particularly when they have connections with violent crime. How convenient. Our Verdict: not another one of those.

You may have gathered that most of these are US shows, apart from one Aussie and one Kiwi entry. TV3 have also picked up several excellent BBC docos, including Genghis Khan, Boys from the Block and The Real Bangkok Hilton. And returning shows include the usual suspects: the CSI twins, the Law & Order triplets, Survivor Vanuatu, Malcolm In The Middle, That 70s Show, Will & Grace, Everybody Loves Raymond, 24, Charmed, The Simple Life, Hot Property, Garden Wars and Bro'Town.

All in all, a strong lineup for TV3 going into 2005. Stay tuned for the TVNZ collection, details as they come to hand!

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Going Plazes Fresh out of Germany, Plazes ( is a new social software application - currently in beta - which works out where you are geographically based on your IP address. So wherever you pop-up - be it the office, home, or Wi-Fi network somewhere - Plazes will work out how close you are to someone else who has registered their "Plaze" on the site.

The idea is to use Plazes to find specific kinds of locations like hotspots, restaurants, offices based on your current whereabouts or search criteria.

According to the Plazes website, you can:

* Discover Plazes anywhere Discover Plazes in your vicinity or anywhere else in the world. Because Plazes is not just a dull database you can also browse your way through Plazes all over the world and have a peep. This is where the fun begins. * Hook up with people nearby The "people radar" allows you to see people at your own Plaze or within a given radius. Learn about people at the same trade fair that you are at or see who's at your favourite restaurant this very moment. Find people that share the same interest or match certain criteria using the advanced people search. The built-in messaging tool allows you to get in touch. * Stay in touch with your friends Plazes allows you to invite your friends or give people you hooked up with this status of special trust. By broadcasting your current location to your friends you let them know your whereabouts and vice versa. Of course you can just set yourself "invisible" and explicitly decide what kind of information about yourself is for everybody and what is for your friends' eyes only.

Inevitably, Plazes has to deal with thorny issues such as privacy. They grimly announce "No 1:1 marketing, ever":

* Plazes is not meant to be a one on one marketing system, serving you ads based on WHO you are. We will finance our operations by serving contextual ads based on WHERE you are, targeting Plazes and clusters of certain traits. Our customers will be able to address "females in their twenties at inner city coffeeshops" but never a "Jane Doe". There is a minimum size for a cluster, so no cross-referencing mechanisms can be used to track you down.

Such issues are a fact of life in the twenty-first century, and the Plazes philosophy looks to be a genuine attempt to put users at their ease. As with all networks, the more people who are connected, the more valuable the total operation.

The concept is merely interesting as a web application, but simply cries out to be applied to the humble mobile. Imagine an application that tells you which of your soulmates is in the local cellular neighbourhood, accessible at the touch of a keypad. Quick, find us a venture capitalist ...

Crossing The Line Australia's Ten Network is backing one of its key executives into a start-up venture to help major advertisers fund and develop their own TV shows. Ten's group strategy manager for network sales, Brian Gallagher was an early local proponent of "branded content" which has underpinned hit programs for Ten such as Big Brother and Australian Idol.

He will leave the network in January to establish Full Circle Entertainment, with a contract in place to advise Network Ten on its own initiatives as well as develop at least three advertiser-funded projects next year.

The newest show on Ten to be funded entirely by advertisers, called Bloke's World, launched last Friday. Ford and VB are the advertisers behind the show, and, as the name suggests, this is not one for the politically correct. We wouldn't want to criticise, but we hope that Ford and VB have crisis management plans in place for the inevitable backlash.

And that raises an interesting issue, in this new PVR-threatened world where advertisers are aiming to integrate their products into programmes more and more: what safeguards can be put in place, to ensure that the programmes reflect favourably on their sponsors? Programme-makers will rightly defend their right to make the sorts of shows they want to make, without interference. But when a hardwon commercial reputation is put on the line by inappropriate placement, who carries the can?

Researching Online, Buying Offline According to a new study by the Dieringer Research Group (DRG), in the past year US consumers spent $1.00 online for every $1.70 they spent offline after conducting online research.

The survey was conducted among 3,000 US consumers in an effort to determine multi-channel consumer behaviour. In total, $180.7 billion in offline purchases were made after consumers had conducted online research, compared with $106.5 billion in purchases made online.

Not only were more Internet-influenced offline purchases made than online purchases over the 12-month time frame, but the percentage of offline purchases influenced by online research has grown faster than online purchases. Online sales increased by 14% from 2003 to 2004, while Internet-influenced offline sales rose 31% in the same period.

A September 2004 survey by the Online Publishers Association (OPA) shows that people favour doing product research online rather than offline:

* 76% say they prefer finding product information online rather than in offline media. * 72% prefer finding info about music online. * 56% think that reading a story online is about the same as reading it in a newspaper. * 52% would sooner watch short video clips on TV rather than online. * 63% would much rather watch a longer video on TV.

The DRG study indicates, however, that when it comes down to actually making the purchase, people seem to prefer doing it offline. We suspect this has more to do with the shortcomings of the still-evolving ecommerce world, rather than a desire by consumers to let their feet do the walking. Or could it be that the call of the mall is still sufficiently hypnotic that we willingly submit to its spell?

Another Day, Another Trophy Congratulations to our sister company Grey for picking up a Bronze Asian Brand Marketing Effectiveness Award at the weekend for the Griffin's Toffee Pops campaign, for Best Use of Interactive & New Media.

ABOUT MEDIACOM MEDIACOM, with offices in 80 countries (and now part of the WPP Group of companies), is one of the world's largest and most respected media service companies.

We create media solutions that build business for a wide range of local, regional and worldwide clients.

With $13 billion in global billings, a commitment to strategic insight, total communications planning, tactical media brilliance and tough but creative media negotiating, MEDIACOM provides unsurpassed value in today's chaotic media marketplace.


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