Telelatino tires more mainstream fare

Most viewers, it's fair to say, flip right past Telelatino (TLN) when they're channel-surfing. If they do pause, it's most likely to ogle the runway models who host the variety shows. John Montesano, however, would like to convince them to stay...

Most viewers, it’s fair to say, flip right past Telelatino (TLN) when they’re channel-surfing. If they do pause, it’s most likely to ogle the runway models who host the variety shows.

John Montesano, however, would like to convince them to stay a little longer.

In a bid to boost ratings and capture a share of the mainstream audience, Canada’s Italian and Hispanic television network has made a number of significant changes in recent months, adding subtitled movies, English-language programs and more accessible material such as music videos to its broadcast schedule.

In addition, TLN has begun producing more original programming, in the hope of strengthening its identity as a distinctly Canadian service, rather than simply a rebroadcaster of foreign content.

The changes are designed to increase the channel’s appeal to three key segments, says Montesano, director of programming and market development for Toronto-based TLN Television Network. The first is younger Italian-Canadians whose first language is English. The second is viewers with specific interests, such as fans of Latin music. And the third is simply the general mass of channel-surfers out there.

Subtitled programming is one means of attracting younger viewers. In October, TLN began airing Italian and Spanish movies with English subtitles. The channel has also added subtitled programs such as Angeles, a Spanish-language remake of Charlie’s Angels, which was picked up from Telemundo.

Montesano, for his part, is excited by the prospect of developing more original programming. Telelatino has always done some news and event programming, but a recent $300,000 grant from the Canadian Television Fund will permit the channel to attempt some more ambitious projects.

The first scheduled to air is an English-language documentary about the arrival of Italian immigrants in Canada, entitled Pier 21. TLN is also seeking further grants for a series of Hispanic-culture programs, also in English.

Montesano – who edited now-defunct Eyetalian magazine for five years before joining TLN – says such original programming is intended to capture both Italian- and Hispanic-Canadians interested in their own heritage, as well as a more mainstream audience.

Ultimately, of course, the prime motive behind all of this activity is to build the channel’s advertising base – and, in particular, to attract more national advertisers.

As a rule, Telelatino is pitched as an add-on to campaigns, says Nick Bianchi, director of advertising sales with Toronto-based Specialized Media Sales, the rep house for the network.

‘If you’re putting money on MuchMusic,’ says Bianchi, ‘why aren’t you also putting money on Graffiti [a TLN music show targeting the 16-24 age group]? If you’re putting money on TSN, why not our soccer [broadcasts]? Here’s an opportunity to get a segment that’s very similar to the [mainstream target] you’re aiming at, but that you might not be hitting through those other programs or networks.’

Some national advertisers do seem to buy the argument. Rob Young, senior vice-president, planning and research for Toronto-based Harrison, Young, Pesonen & Newell, says his media management firm has purchased TLN on behalf of clients such as Labatt Breweries of Canada and Sprint Canada. It’s an option that Young says he considers when the added reach can help a client.

Other national advertisers that buy TLN include Bell Canada and Western Union Canada. Much of the channel’s advertising revenue, however, still comes from local retailers.

Also in this report:

- Marketers overlooking youth audience: Youth ethnic Canadians retain strong ties to their cultures: So why don’t more advertisers target them in their own media? p.29

- Face of Chinese market is changing p.30

- South Asian films a hit for AMC p.30

From Karen Howe’s dining table: Creativity, COVID and Cannes

ICYMI, The Township's founder gathers the best of the best campaigns and trends so far.

Cannes Base Camp

By Karen Howe

I’m attending Cannes from the glory of my dining room table. There’s not a palm tree in sight, yet inspiration and intel are present in abundance.

Cannes Lions is a global cultural pulse check. The social course correction in the wake of the murder of George Floyd and BLM has delivered far greater diversity in the judging panels as well as the work. And we are all better for it.

I’m proud to say that creativity defeated COVID, which speaks to its power. Great work and big ideas flourished, despite unimaginable odds.

The work from the past two years spans a vast emotional range. From the profundity of Dove’s “Courage is Beautiful” to the hyper exuberance of Burberry’s “Festive,” they are opposite ends of the spectrum, but each answered a need in us.

Take note, the ascendency of gaming cannot be understated. Smart brands have embraced the channel. It makes sense, because gamers participate to meet others around the world, not just to play. And they represent a huge and powerful community. That’s why QSR Wendy’s gamified their iconic gal in RPG’s Feast of Legends.

Burger King sponsored the unknown Stevenage Football Club, transforming the team into online heroes and vaulting BK into the fray at the same time. Once again, the brand embedded itself in culture.

The birth of gaming tourism arrived when Xbox snuggled up to travel guides and created a brilliant baby: a travel guide for gaming worlds. It, too, embedded itself in culture.

From the standpoint of social good, Reporter Without Borders showed how it worked with Mindcraft for its “Uncensored Library” to bypass press censorship, with Minecraft providing a loophole to a space where young people could be educated. It provided youth with a powerful tool to fight oppression: truth.

COVID changed us in unexpected ways. We learned how to pay attention again and there was a notable lack of 30-second commercials. Instead, longer format content thrived. Apple’s WFH was seven minutes long. Entertainment reigned king, so we find ourselves returning to our advertising roots.

Seeing competitive brands form partnerships was one of this year’s other great surprises. The brilliantly simple “Beer Cap Project” by Aguila to reduce binge-drinking saw the brand reach out to competitive beers to join in. Aguila put incentivizing (keyword: free) reminders to drink water, eat food and get home safely on its bottle caps from all sorts of fast food chains, ride-share co’s and H2O brands.

On a personal level, I’m so proud of Canada again this year. Given that it was two years of work from all over the world being judged, even making the Cannes shortlist was an accomplishment. Canada is herding in the Lions in tremendous numbers – and it’s not even over. Fingers are crossed.

KAREN-HOWE-PIC-higher-rez-300x263Karen Howe is a Canadian Cannes Advisory Board Member and founder of The Township Group