Specialty TV Services: New channels aim for strong brand identity

Even in the early stages of organization, it is clear that marketing and sales are considered key functions by the new tv specialty services.A round of calls to the specialty services has shown that the marketing and sales departments are being...

Even in the early stages of organization, it is clear that marketing and sales are considered key functions by the new tv specialty services.

A round of calls to the specialty services has shown that the marketing and sales departments are being structured interdependently in order to build the kind of brand identity that has proven successful for existing specialty services such as TSN, The Sports Network, ytv and MuchMusic, all of Toronto.

David Kirkwood, director of sales and marketing for MuchMusic, a division of CHUMCity, is also head of marketing for Bravo!, the Toronto-based performing arts service.

According to Kirkwood, Bravo!’s entire operation needs to be involved in building an identity that will cut through the clutter of a crowded tv environment.

‘Today, everything is marketing,’ he says.

Like the other services, Bravo! is in the process of working out a precise structure for its marketing and sales department.

Kirkwood says Bravo! will have different sales reps than MuchMusic, and they will report to him.

At The Country Network, a Calgary-based country music service, owned by Maclean Hunter of Toronto and Rawlco Communications of Calgary, sales will fall under the marketing umbrella and will most likely be run by the same individual.

Acting head of operations Shaun Purdue, president of cfcn-tv in Calgary, says there is no difference between marketing and sales in the ’90s, and that the multidimensional nature of specialty channel advertising will be easier to facilitate with one person at the helm.

‘We’re looking at an integrated approach to sales and marketing – clearly they are one and the same today,’ Purdue says.

‘You can’t send your salesmen out to sell spots and think you’re going to do your marketing in a different world,’ he says.

‘Marketing and sales have to sell promotional tie-ins, franchise agreements, develop relationship marketing.

‘Having the sales and marketing division under one individual makes the whole process easier.’

Purdue is searching for sales reps who have experience working with smaller markets and fragmented audiences, as well as designing value-added programs that will set the station apart from its competitors.

‘It’s not unlike how radio stations have adapted promotions to make a name for themselves,’ he says. ‘Radio today emulates what specialty services will have to do to thrive.’

Like The Country Network, Lifestyle Television is developing a marketing and sales structure in which the sales department will report directly to marketing.

Lifestyle, the Winnipeg-based service specializing in women’s programming, is beginning to search in the Winnipeg area for representatives experienced in cable-liaison and advertising sales.

Perhaps more importantly, Lifestyle is looking for marketing and salespeople who understand the station’s marketing philosophy, says Jacqueline Cook, vice-president marketing.

Cook says the marketing staff will be faced with the challenge of balancing financial objectives with a commitment to a set of values that define the service.

‘Like any commercial organization, we have target numbers to hit and need revenue flows to create our programming,’ she says.

‘On the other hand, our advertising must reflect our values as a station. We don’t want to promote violence or inaccurate stereotypes. It’s not good enough to have only your programming reflect this: it has to be addressed by advertisers.’

A fine-tuned awareness of the ways of the world is a marketing prerequisite at The Discovery Channel, says Trina McQueen, vice-president and general manager.

‘We’ll have a v-p marketing who has what I call a ’90s approach,’ McQueen says.

‘That’s someone who’s comfortable in the wired world, someone who has a sense of the quality of life people are looking for now,’ she says.

‘Part of that is understanding that there is a life outside work, and that life includes discovery in the largest sense.’

The Discovery Channel is using The Rep Shoppe, a Toronto-based media buying house, as its sales arm.

Despite its out-of-house location, McQueen says she considers the sales staff an extension of the marketing department.

‘The best salesmen have always been marketers,’ she says. ‘They don’t just go in with price-points. They can imagine the broadcaster and the client’s needs, and put the two imaginations together.’

Gerry Tymon, vice-president and general manager of The Rep Shoppe, says the relationship between marketing and sales at Discovery is one of interdependence.

The marketing department creates and manages the presentation of the product in a way that supports the solicitation of ad revenues.

In turn, the marketing department looks to sales for guidance as to the types of material, information and programming advertisers are attracted to.

The Rep Shoppe will report to Discovery’s marketing department, as a supplier of services charged with delivering advertising revenues.

But, Tymon says, essentially, the marketing and sales departments have a partnership, and both are fed by programming, which supports marketing and sales but is not controlled by them.

‘Program offering is the heart and soul of any station,’ he says. ‘If it’s not right, there will not be viewer or advertiser interest, and we can all put out the lights and go home.

‘But sprouting from the program offerings are the sales and marketer’ efforts to inform, enlighten and entice people and advertisers to become part of the experience.’

Showcase, a Toronto-based entertainment service, is exploring several options in terms of a marketing and sales structure, says Phyllis Yaffe, president and chief executive officer.

Right now, Showcase is looking to fill vice-president marketing and director of sales positions, and is exploring the possibility of using an out-of-house sales firm.

According to Yaffe, the sales side will report to the vice-president marketing, who will perform a combination of functions: direct the entire marketing approach, the ad sales side, cable relations and viewer relations.

‘I believe the person that will work best will come from the ad sales side,’ she says.

‘You have to know that language, smell those numbers, and be able to work with the advertising community in a creative way.’

Showcase plans on having the marketing and sales department fully staffed and structured by the end of July.

A marketing and sales structure has not been made final at YOU: Your Channel, but President Denis Harvey says he is working towards a system that allows marketing, promotions and programming to work closely together.

Harvey says sales fall under the umbrella of marketing, and will be commissioned from an outside rep house.

Reporting lines have not been established, but sales and marketing will be closely allied and will work with the programming department to achieve an overall effect.

‘Programming is what drives any network, but if marketing, sales and promotions don’t work closely with programmers to sell the image and the program to advertisers, we aren’t going to be successful,’ Harvey says.

At Le Reseau de L’Information (rdi), the French-language equivalent of CBC Newsworld, owned by Societe Radio-Canada, the French-language service of the cbc, the marketing and sales departments will be integrated with the existing marketing and sales departments of src.

Hughes Beaudoin, src’s regional sales manager, will take charge of rdi regional sales and act as product manager.

Jean Mongeau, national sales director for rdi, will take on national sales.

Louise Versailles, marketing director for src, will be marketing director for rdi.

All sales and marketing department executives will report to Robert Trempe, general manager.

According to Beaudoin, rdi has fully staffed its sales and marketing team and will make final marketing and sales plans for the end of July.