Kessler comes to TV

Syd Kessler, a self-described 'advertising guy,' wants to become the No. 1 outdoor tv programming producer in the country and beyond.But, Kessler says he is setting about his task with advertisers firmly in mind, rather than hitching his wagon to the...

Syd Kessler, a self-described ‘advertising guy,’ wants to become the No. 1 outdoor tv programming producer in the country and beyond.

But, Kessler says he is setting about his task with advertisers firmly in mind, rather than hitching his wagon to the future programming needs of any or all of the six or seven specialty channels the crtc is expected to license in the not-too-distant future.

Kessler, in a recent interview in his eclectically decorated Kessler Group office in downtown Toronto, explained the approach he and partner Salim Sachedina, intend to take after recently buying 50% of The Canadian Sportfishing Communications Network from its founders and owners, Henry Waszczuk and Italo Labignan.

Kessler met Waszczuk and Labignan after a Supercorp client arranged for the two men to come to a restaurant where Kessler was celebrating his birthday and present him with an iou for a day’s fishing.

The three got on like a house on fire, Kessler recalls, and he offered them a day’s business advice in return.

What he discovered about the potential of angling was a revelation, says Kessler, an avid sports fisherman himself.

‘In that meeting, I heard things that made my eyes roll back in my head,’ he says.

‘You have to understand that I’m in advertising, so I sort of look for the clues. I could not believe it. One in every three people in North America is a registered angler.

‘That means eight million people in Canada that are registered fishermen or fisherwomen, and, `What’s the population of the States?’, it’s like 60 million people in the States are registered anglers.’

So, he continues, he did some research to find out if there was anything unique about the buying patterns of anglers.

‘They buy more Quaker State motor oil, they buy more boats, obviously,’ Kessler says. ‘They buy more four-wheel drives, they buy more beer, they buy more Levis.’

‘So, in other words, if you had to advertise to someone who’s drinking beer or buying Levis, it’s a no-brainer,’ he says.

‘And the cost-per-thousand is less.

‘So if I’m Ford, and I’ve got a four-wheel drive vehicle, and I want to try to get more bang for my dollar, do I buy 20% of the audience who may be looking for a four-wheel drive? Or do I buy sportfishing, that’s 100% of the people.’

Kessler admits that for some categories – he suggests pantyhose – the sportsfishing/outdoor vehicle will not work, but for others it is an ‘advertiser’s gold mine.’

So far, he says, advertisers have been highly receptive to his pitch, with Black’s Cameras already striking a deal, as has a boot manufacturer.

Elsewhere, Kessler says he is talking to kfc, the Levis and gwg clothing companies, confectionery makers and breweries.

Mind you, he says none of this would have come to pass without the effort of Waszczuk and Labignan, who have ‘made fishing intelligent,’ and created a ‘fishing culture’ where none existed until they came along about 10 years ago.

Also, he concedes, the intersecting of his plans with people’s quest for more authentic experiences in their lives cannot but help his drive towards the top spot.