CBC to drop ads; media buyers wary

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's plan to go commercial-free could spell higher rates and increased clutter in the private television marketplace, media buyers warn....

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation’s plan to go commercial-free could spell higher rates and increased clutter in the private television marketplace, media buyers warn.

CBC president Robert Rabinovitch has revealed plans to de-commercialize the public broadcaster by eliminating as much advertising "as possible." He wants to start by dropping ads from news programming.

Lorraine Hughes, media director with Toronto-based TBWA Chiat/Day, says there’s steadily growing pressure on TV time these days, especially with the proliferation of dot-com advertisers, and reductions on CBC will just add to that.

While the effect probably won’t be that serious in Toronto, where advertisers have a reasonable amount of selection, it could prove considerable in markets such as Calgary and Vancouver, where inventory is tight.

"There just aren’t enough GRPs [in those markets] for everybody to buy," Hughes says. "As we’re losing minutes, it’s putting more pressure on the inventory that’s in the market. And of course, as there’s more pressure, the rates increase, and it all becomes a vicious cycle."

The loss of commercial opportunities in CBC news programming, she adds, will diminish the already limited array of options available to those advertisers that target managers and professionals.

For her part, Karen Nayler, managing director of Toronto-based MindShare Canada, says there’s no real cause for panic – at least at the moment.

While CBC may be cutting back on commercial airtime, she says, there’s more and more available from specialty channels – many of which also offer new opportunities for targeting.

Hughes agrees, but adds that there’s one thing advertisers can do on CBC news that they can’t do on most specialties – namely, execute regional buys.

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