WGN America: The Evolution of an Ad Sales Message

The network’s ad sales pitch had long been a 10-minute sales reel driven by an original shoot featuring the talent of its newest off-network acquisition. A disk would be sent to advertising clients for viewing, if and when they chose to watch it. We're betting most didn't.

 

Industrial Creative pitched the network on a radically different approach to their advertising sales: reinventing their strategy and sales platform along with their presentation creative and ad sales brand.

YEAR ONE

First step: convincing ad buyers that the network they knew and ignored was dead and gone. A consumer brand hadn’t been conceived let alone established. But we needed to plant a flag on rebirth. What was important was convincing them that a new era had begun.

 

To be credible, it wasn’t enough to say new; we had to be new, to show them new (OR represent as new). We sold the client on a half-hour presentation featuring slides and reels, to be delivered live by each A.E., on-site for the first time in the network’s history.

The client wasn’t certain they’d get any traction. But digital and print collateral materials caught eyes and opened doors… and a pitch was born focusing on a single word: new.

BRAND: NEW

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YEAR TWO

 

We planted a flag in the reinvention of the network. Now it was time to start framing up the story. What next?

 

Liguori’s vision was to transform the country’s last superstation into a cable network capable of drawing a much larger audience. This was our message.

 

As the architect of FX’s transformation from the “M*A*S*H” network to an original programming powerhouse, Peter Liguori knew there was only one way to do that: through original series. He dropped all regional sports and cable no-go’s, and greenlit two high-profile originals that he believed were unique enough to make new viewers not just sample the shows, but seek them out and stay committed. Audiences bought in; so did advertisers.  

 

FROM SUPERSTATION TO DESTINATION

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YEAR THREE

 

Every year at the TCAs, John Landgraf speaks about the current Television Renaissance. Sadly, happily, there’s just too much great TV to watch it all. The number of originals continues to grow, and nobody thought WGN America would command any eyes. But it did.

 

One original captured strong a large, loyal and very vocal fan base. The other was a stunning critical hit and earned the network its first-ever Emmy Award. Ratings were up, demos were younger, ad sales revenue growth was through the roof.

 

As the network continued to invest big in impressive development slate, we wanted to trumpet current successes and point to more ahead. This was a network that had already and would continue to surprise — the creative community, critics, audiences, and advertisers.

 

DEFY EXPECTATIONS

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YEAR FOUR

 

“Underground” and “Outsiders” were both blowing up, and WGN America was setting more records, in both ratings and revenue. But the young network hadn’t been able to coalesce around a brand identity. What message would describe its programming, articulate a unique brand, and resonate with both audiences and advertisers?

 

Consensus was proving impossible. The one idea the powers-that-be could all agree on was that these were uniquely American stories.


We built an aesthetic around American iconography and crafted a perfect positioning statement… one that evoked a shared programming identity while it delivered the promise of growing success for advertising partners.

 

BRAND OF OPPORTUNITY

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