06/05/2008 10:06 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Advertisers Rate 2008 Upfront Events in Survey

For Full Results of the 2008 Survey of Advertising Executives on Upfront Presentations, Visit

Advertising executives agree: By every measure, Univision produced the best Upfront event of 2008.

The network ranked a strong No. 1 in all categories in the 2008 Survey of Advertising Executives on Upfront Presentations, in which qualified agency and advertising executives who attended the broadcast and cable networks' individual events ranked them for their effectiveness in different areas. Categories included Positive Impact on Your Decision Making and Perceptions; Style, Format and Entertainment and Value and Relevance. (Several responses were received from IP addresses originating at the networks. In order to maintain the integrity of the survey they were all deleted from the respondent base.)

As noted in my May 22 column Network TV Upfront Week 2008: Not So Bad After All, Univision towered above all other presentations by offering a winning combination of high-profile entertainment (Shakira, the cast of Broadway's Spanish-centric musical In the Heights) and detailed information about its leadership in the Spanish-language marketplace. Univision also skillfully reinforced the strong three-way connection it has established between network, advertisers and audience. Our survey results indicate that advertisers appreciated and benefited from Univision's efforts.

Respondents also agreed that Fox and CBS both delivered outstanding presentations, with Fox ranking No. 2 and CBS No. 3 in all categories. Both networks offered informative, stimulating presentations that educated even more than they entertained. Fox likely topped CBS in all standings because it threw the best party of Upfront week, allowing thousands of advertising executives to freely mingle and meet with the network's sales and programming executives, along with creators of and talent from its new and returning shows in a festive environment. CBS, on the other hand, chose not to throw its traditional post-presentation party at Tavern on the Green, always a popular event. It seems advertisers missed CBS' annual shrimp-fest.

For Full Results of the Survey of Advertising Executives on Upfront Presentations, Visit

Plainly, the way to impress advertisers is by presenting a strong message in an engaging manner. That would explain why ABC's presentation came in so far below Fox and CBS in every category. ABC chose to produce a very scaled-down, business-intensive presentation that was not very special, even if its subject matter was significant. (Like CBS, ABC chose not to have a party.) Fox and CBS made much better use of clips and celebrities to tell their stories and educate their audiences.

The CW staged a very lively party but dramatically reduced its actual presentation to brief comments from a couple of executives about one hour into the festivities. According to the results of our survey, advertisers were not impressed.

Still, The CW fared much better than NBC. Crash-landing in last place in every category was the much-talked about NBC Universal Experience, a dizzying mish-mash that was intended to show off the many and varied media assets of the company, including its cable networks, news division, digital platforms and movie studio. As an Upfront week event it seems to have been a failure, perhaps because decades of previous presentations have cemented expectations of what an Upfront event should be. As far as our survey respondents were concerned, this particular party seemed to do little to educate anyone about anything at NBCU, in particular the Peacock's new fall shows. Perhaps it would have played better in June, when those shows could have been positioned as a focal point of the event.

Tellingly, NBC's intimate Infront presentations to small groups of advertisers in April scored much better in the categories Positive Impact on Your Decision Making and Perceptions and Value and Relevance.

Results were mixed for the many basic cable network Upfront events that took place in New York City from March-May. Turner Networks seemed to benefit from moving its event into the middle of Upfront week, at least with the advertising community. (The scheduling of the Turner event was a problem for the media's top television journalists, who were otherwise engaged on that Wednesday morning at CBS' annual can't-miss Upfront breakfast at CBS hosted by Leslie Moonves, affectionately referred to by reporters as Lox with Les). Turner's old-fashioned, celebrity filled presentation was the highest ranked cable network event in the categories Style, Format and Entertainment and Value and Relevance. The similarly impressive Discovery Networks presentation topped Turner in Positive Impact on Your Decision Making and Perceptions.

MTV Networks' Upfront event, which focused on the growing importance of customized commercial messages and brought out a number of big stars (including Justin Timberlake and Taylor Swift), landed in the middle in all categories. It tied with Scripps and The Weather Channel for overall effectiveness.

Interestingly, advertisers were kinder in all categories to Scripps Networks' breakfast event, which consisted of a long series of speeches by its network presidents, than they were to ABC's similarly straight-forward event, which at least included a comedy routine by Jimmy Kimmel amid its executives' comments.

For Full Results of the Survey of Advertising Executives on Upfront Presentations, Visit

To communicate with or to be contacted by the executives and/or companies mentioned in this column, link to the JackMyers Connection Hotline.

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