October 20, 2020

Fox Contest Offers 30-Second Super Bowl Pregame Ad as a Prize

The contest is scheduled to be announced Friday by the Fox Sports Media Group, which is part of 21st Century Fox; Fox Broadcasting will present Super Bowl XLVIII on Feb. 2, 2014. The tentative name for the contest is the Social Bowl, although there is already a Web site by that name that tracks the effectiveness of Super Bowl advertising in building value for brands.

The contest is centered on an offer to give away a commercial on Super Bowl Sunday — not during the game, which is already about 95 percent sold, with only a “handful” of 30-second spots in the commercial inventory still available, Fox Sports Media Group executives say. Rather, the prize is a 30-second commercial to be broadcast at around 5 p.m. Eastern Time during the pregame show, valued at about $850,000. (The price tag on a 30-second commercial during the game is being estimated at $4 million.)

Marketers will be able to participate in the contest by submitting proposed commercials to the Fox Sports Media Group and paying an entry fee of $150,000. Football fans, ad fans and anyone with access to social media will then vote on which potential spot they believe is Super Bowl Sunday-worthy after watching the entries on online platforms like the Fox Sports Web site or YouTube.

The Fox Sports Media Group plans to promote the voting with an extensive campaign in social media outlets that is scheduled to begin on the first weekend in January. “We’ll be putting a ton of media behind it,” said Neil Mulcahy, executive vice president for sales at the Fox Sports Media Group, a ton being “a few million dollars.”

A winner of the contest will be named close to or on game day; the executives have not decided yet on a date.

“What this is, is a social experiment,” Mr. Mulcahy said, spurred by the fact that in the last few years the hoopla surrounding who is buying ads on Super Bowl Sunday has begun to build earlier and earlier.

“It’s definitely a trend we’ve noticed,” he said, and it is being fed by the ability of advertisers to use social media like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and blogs to provide previews of their Super Bowl Sunday ads before Super Bowl Sunday.

Pete Vlastelica, senior vice president for digital at the Fox Sports Media Group, estimated that for Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3, 2013, “thanks to the Internet, something like 40 percent of the in-game advertisers were teasing, leaking or running their whole spots” ahead of the game.

Mr. Mulcahy credited Mr. Vlastelica with coming up with the idea for the contest. Mr. Vlastelica said he envisioned the contest as a way to “open to a much larger group of brands the opportunity to advertise on Super Bowl Sunday,” particularly the kinds of “independent, smaller brands that don’t think of participating in the run-up to the Super Bowl because it is beyond their reach.”

There will be, however, nothing to prevent large marketers from submitting entries in the contest. “It will be interesting to see who wins,” Mr. Vlastelica said, “a major brand or a brand you’ve never heard of.”

There will also be prizes in addition to the free commercial time, he added, in categories like funniest commercial or “most viral.”

The commercials to be submitted in the contest must meet broadcast acceptability standards, Mr. Vlastelica and Mr. Mulcahy said, as well as the standards for advertising during National Football League games.

In other words, Mr. Mulcahy said, laughing, “Keep it clean.”

Mr. Mulcahy said he believed that the remaining commercial time in the game, five or so 30-second time slots, would be sold by mid-October. “The last time we had the Super Bowl, they were sold out by Thanksgiving,” he added.

For Super Bowl XLVII seven months ago, which was broadcast by CBS, CBS executives announced about a month before the game was played that they had completed selling all the commercial time in the game.

In another sign of how early the Super Bowl Sunday drum-banging now starts, several marketers have already announced that they plan to buy commercial time during Super Bowl XLVIII, including Anheuser-Busch, Chevrolet, Dannon Oikos yogurt, Hyundai Motor America and Intuit.

The next Super Bowl may become known as the contest Super Bowl. In addition to the Fox Sports Media Group contest, the NFL Films unit of the National Football League introduced on Thursday night a contest called Together We Make Football — Your Story, centered on a microsite, or special Web site, togetherwemakefootball.com.

The NFL Films contest asks, “Why do you love football?” and invites fans to submit, through Nov. 5, video clips of up to five minutes, or essays of up to 1,000 words, that answer the question. A panel is to select 10 finalists from among the entries, whose submissions will be turned into shorts by NFL Films and run during games played in December.

Five winners from among the finalists will be selected by the public through votes on the microsite and announced during the playoffs. The winners will receive trips to the game and their stories will be featured in a documentary produced by NFL Films.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/21/business/media/fox-contest-offers-30-second-super-bowl-pregame-ad-as-a-prize.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Shepard Smith to Run a ‘Breaking News Division’ at Fox

The schedule shift will enable Fox News to add a planned opinion program in prime time headed by Megyn Kelly, while also taking steps to enhance Mr. Smith’s role as the network’s primary hard-news anchor.

The plan calls for Mr. Smith to interrupt any of the other Fox News programs for breaking news reports; it also means the program lineup in prime time will be able to accommodate four opinion-based hosts instead of the current three. Fox has yet to announce formally the full evening lineup, but the widespread speculation is that Ms. Kelly’s new show would appear at 9 p.m., with Sean Hannity’s program making way by moving to 7 p.m.

The official announcement of the new lineup is expected soon. No start date was announced for Mr. Smith’s new program, to be called “Shepard Smith Reporting,” partly because he will undergo surgery next week for a torn shoulder labrum.

Mr. Smith said the new overall format, which will have him available all day to break in with news, should help delineate even more clearly the wall between news and opinion shows — what he called “programming” — at the network.

“My team is really good at news,” he said. “They are really good at programming. For me one of the best things we can do is raise the wall between news and programming even higher. We need that wall high. We serve different functions.”

Mr. Smith said he would operate out of a new, state-of-the-art studio and be able to follow stories as they happen by referring to social media accounts as well as conventional coverage.

“We need to stop pretending that people aren’t tweeting things,” Mr. Smith said. The idea is to check what may be trending on Twitter and use “information specialists” to verify that information, while also tying it to possible video on YouTube or photos on Instagram or Facebook.

He said he welcomed the shift because “I’ve been bored for a long time” from doing a conventional evening newscast reading from a teleprompter.

Mr. Smtih recently signed a new contract to remain at Fox News, and the breaking news project is very expensive, he said, without mentioning specific figures.

“Roger is spending an unbelievable amount of money,” he said, referring to the Fox News chief executive, Roger Ailes. “He’s been disrupting this industry for a long time. I love it.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/09/13/business/media/shepard-smith-to-run-a-breaking-news-division-at-fox.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Eli the Rapper and Pitchman Gets a Thumbs Up From Some Big Critics

Of course, with Eli Manning being the video’s co-star — alongside brother Peyton — 89 Giants not named Manning quickly found comedic moments to pounce on. For instance, there was a possible record number of N.F.L. players in one room simultaneously humming.

The video was made by DirecTV and featured the Mannings wearing goofy wigs and dorky costumes and mouthing lines to a rap parody, “Football On Your Phone.” At one point, Eli jumped through a portrait of Alexander Graham Bell.

Filmed in New Orleans during the off-season, the video was released online to promote the satellite broadcaster’s mobile initiative for N.F.L. Sunday Ticket. Bryan Buckley, the video’s director, outfitted the Mannings in retro clothing intended to spoof 1980s music videos. By midday Wednesday, it had been viewed more than 2.7 million times on YouTube.

For the typically football-obsessed Eli Manning, the commercial is the latest in a growing list of side ventures. Jon Gieselman, senior vice president of marketing for DirecTV, said Manning’s appeal for advertisers goes beyond just his football résumé.

“A lot of the funny things that have shown up over the years have been sort of ad-libbed on his part, or expressions we weren’t expecting,” Gieselman said in a telephone interview. “He brings a lot. It’s not just a director telling him what to do and him following directions.”

Manning has been featured in commercial spots for Toyota, Dunkin’ Donuts and Reebok, along with a handful of prior ads for DirecTV. Gieselman said Manning’s ease in front of the camera has grown noticeably since he began working with him eight years ago.

“Practice makes perfect,” Gieselman said. “The more you do it, the more comfortable you get with it. He’s definitely gotten a lot more comfortable with it.”

Manning certainly did not appear bashful when he hosted “Saturday Night Live” in May 2012, and performed a skit in which he dressed in drag.

That, predictably, became a focal point for some ribbing from teammates. The new rap video rekindled that sort of teasing and clearly offered a release from the routine grind of camp.

“The dance was the worst part,” running back David Wilson said. “The football on your phone, the chorus, that’s the funniest part.”

Guard Chris Snee said: “I’ve never heard Eli sing, period. When he controls the radio, it’s usually country or something nobody else wants to listen to.”

Manning did not seem to enjoy talking about himself, shrugging, blushing and chuckling uncomfortably. He sounded relieved when he was finally asked about preparing for the Pittsburgh Steelers, whom the Giants face in their preseason opener on Saturday.

“I think I’ll stick with my day job,” Manning said.

At this point, with the off-field requests multiplying, Manning’s quarterbacking ability might begin to get overshadowed. Along with receiver Victor Cruz, who has done commercials for Time Warner Cable, Campbell’s Soup and Foot Locker, the Giants suddenly might have an acting duo on par with any team in professional sports.

But in these grueling summer months, sometimes it is beneficial to have a diversion. Once again, the understated Manning helped provide comic relief, with an assist from Coach Tom Coughlin.

“I’m not sure what the music awards are,” Coughlin said. “But I’m sure he’ll be in the running.”

EXTRA POINTS

The former safety Deon Grant officially retired as a Giant on Wednesday, after 11 seasons with four different teams. He did not play in 2012. His final game was Super Bowl XLVI, in which he made five tackles. … Justin Tuck (back tightness) sat out practice for precautionary reasons, Coach Tom Coughlin said.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/08/sports/football/eli-the-rapper-gets-a-thumbs-up-from-some-big-critics.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

From Texas Statehouse to YouTube, a Filibuster Is a Hit

But her abortion rights advocacy and her pink sneakers might have never gained national attention had she been in a state without a reliable live stream of the Legislature. Ms. Davis’s 11-hour filibuster inadvertently illuminated the stark technological differences that exist from state to state when it comes to broadcasting the public’s business.

In nearly a dozen states, there is no live video of legislative proceedings, only audio; in some other states that purport to provide video, the Web streams barely work. Even the audio, though, is of value to reporters, activists and ordinary citizens.

As journalism organizations continue to cut back on the number of reporters stationed at statehouses across the country, state-level equivalents to C-Span on television and online are supplying new ways to bear witness to the machinations of state and local government.

Some of Ms. Davis’s supporters and detractors will surely be watching on Monday when the Texas Legislature reconvenes and takes up the bill again. In Texas last week, The Texas Tribune made up for the state Senate’s digital shortcomings. Months before Ms. Davis’s vivid protest, the nonprofit news organization, based a few blocks from the state Capitol building in Austin, had gained access to the stream provided by state-controlled cameras there and set up a live YouTube channel for the legislative session.

While the same stream was also accessible through the Senate’s own Web site, that site looked almost comically old-fashioned compared with YouTube. Thus it was through YouTube that Ms. Davis’s filibuster was widely seen and shared.

“It’s great to see a channel like The Texas Tribune using YouTube to take a local story national — and probably won’t be the only time we’ll see this happen,” said Kevin Allocca, a trends manager at YouTube.

Online videos have been going viral for almost a decade, but what came out of the filibuster in Texas was something distinct: viral live video. Whether from a statehouse balcony or an activist’s smartphone, scenes that were once edited and distilled for television are increasingly being streamed live to an audience that spreads the news, or at least the pictures, themselves.

Streams from independent journalists at Occupy Wall Street protests in 2011 sometimes drew tens of thousands of viewers. More recently, links to live streaming video of mass protests in Turkey, Brazil and, as late as Sunday, Egypt, have been popular on social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

When the Texas Senate stream on YouTube peaked in popularity shortly after midnight Wednesday, as the end of the legislative session dissolved into chaos, 182,000 people were tuned in, about the same number watching MSNBC, one of the cable news channels that was mercilessly criticized for not broadcasting the Texas debate live.

People didn’t necessarily need MSNBC, though, because they had YouTube.

The theatrical aspects of Ms. Davis’s filibuster and the seriousness of what was at stake “all resulted in people saying to their friends, ‘You have to look at this!’ ” said Andrew Lih, a professor of journalism and director of new media at the University of Southern California Annenberg School of Communication and Journalism.

Many, probably most, of the online viewers wanted to see the Senate bill fail. They organized around Twitter hashtags like #StandWithWendy. But some anti-abortion campaigners followed the filibuster too, along with the politically minded who simply enjoyed watching what The Dallas Morning News called a “knife-fight within the confines of Robert’s Rules of Order.”

The heavy online viewership helped to prompt television networks and other news outlets to follow up the next morning and subsequently. On “Meet the Press” on Sunday, Ms. Davis said she and other state Democrats would keep battling against the abortion bill and said even if it passes, as many analysts expect, “obviously there will be challenges to it going forward.”

Thanks to the heightened interest in the bill, The Texas Tribune Web site had “far and away the highest traffic day in our history,” said Evan Smith, its editor in chief. Visitors have pledged about $37,000 to the nonprofit organization, from a total of 37 states, reflecting the nationwide scope of the sudden attention.

Mr. Lih said that The Tribune had done something significant “by getting the Senate video, which existed already, into a portal where the people hang out,” that is, YouTube. “That is pretty simple but powerful,” he said. (The Texas Tribune has a partnership with The New York Times to provide expanded coverage of the state.)

Data from the National Conference of State Legislatures indicates that all 50 states stream live audio of floor proceedings. Most also stream video, but the quality and accessibility varies widely. In some states, lack of funds has caused hardware and software upgrades to be postponed.

In Texas and in most other states the productions are handled in-house, raising concerns about potential interference. (At several points during the abortion bill debate last Tuesday, the stream was muted while private discussions took place, much to the consternation of viewers who were unaware that this was standard procedure.)

But in eight states, there are nonprofit groups that produce gavel-to-gavel coverage of all three state branches of government, according to Paul Giguere, the head of the Connecticut Public Affairs Network and a national association of ones like it.

“Ordinary citizens have an inherent right to watch their state government in action if they choose to,” Mr. Giguere said.

His association is piecing together a national strategy with the hope that it can convert more states to a more independent model. “We can’t replace reporters. What reporters do is critical,” he said. “But we can be a primary source.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/01/business/media/from-texas-statehouse-to-youtube-a-filibuster-is-a-hit.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

YouTube Introduces First Pay Channels

The first paid video channels appeared on the sprawling video Web site, a unit of Google, Thursday afternoon, with subscription rates ranging from 99 cents to $7.99 a month. The early participants include Sesame Workshop, the producer of “Sesame Street,” which streams full episodes of the children’s show to paying subscribers; Ultimate Fighting Championship, the mixed martial arts league, which streams classic fights to fans; and The Young Turks, a progressive talk show.

YouTube identified about 30 of these partners on Thursday and said other video makers would soon be able to set up their own paid channels. In a conference call for reporters, Malik Ducard, the director of content partnerships for YouTube, suggested that this “self-service feature” was the most important piece of the announcement.

“As we roll out wider and as we roll out self-serve, you’ll see a lot of innovation,” he said, predicting that homegrown YouTube stars with fan followings would set up paid channels.

YouTube’s subscription plans were widely reported this week, but the names of the participants were not disclosed until Thursday. The arrangement gives the creators of videos — some of whom have expressed dissatisfaction with the payments from the advertisements attached to their videos — a new way to profit from their popularity. The plan also gives YouTube a new source of revenue, although there are widespread doubts about whether people will be willing to pay for channels, since the name YouTube is almost synonymous with free streaming video on the Web.

Absent from the list of partners on Thursday were all of the biggest media companies in the United States, like the Walt Disney Company and Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal. Instead there were start-ups like the Rap Battle Network, BabyFirstTV and Cars.TV. Some of the partners have tried to gain distribution on cable and satellite television systems, but say they view YouTube as another appealing way to gain an audience.

Several companies specializing in how-to videos are among the initial partners, including iAmplify, a producer of instructional workout videos. Another area of concentration is children’s programming: in addition to Sesame Workshop, there will be paid channels from National Geographic Kids and the Jim Henson Company. Henson will stream full episodes of shows like “Fraggle Rock.” There will also be several channels devoted to movies and documentaries, though most of the film titles are obscure. Other channels will have reruns of television shows from outside the United States.

Mr. Ducard said all the paid channels would have 14-day free trials and many would offer discounted yearly rates for subscribers. Viewers will pay with Google Wallet, the same system Google’s app store uses. As the channel owners set their own prices, YouTube and the partners hope to find out quickly what price ranges are most successful.

YouTube declined to say exactly how it would split the revenue from paid subscriptions with the producers of channels. It now keeps 45 percent of the revenue from the ads it sells and gives producers the rest. Mr. Ducard said the subscriber revenue split would be “very similar to the ad-support business.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/10/business/media/youtubes-pay-channels-include-sesame-street-and-mixed-martial-arts.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

YouTube’s Pay Channels Include ‘Sesame Street’ and Mixed Martial Arts

YouTube on Thursday detailed its plan to let producers sell paid subscriptions to their videos, creating a prominent new marketplace for programming on the Internet.

The sprawling video Web site, a unit of Google, said the first paid video channels would appear online on Thursday afternoon, with subscription rates ranging from 99 cents to $7.99 a month. The early participants include Sesame Workshop, the producer of “Sesame Street,” which will stream full episodes of the children’s show to paying subscribers; Ultimate Fighting Championship, the mixed martial arts league, which will stream classic fights to fans; and the Young Turks, a progressive talk show.

YouTube identified about 30 of these partners on Thursday and said other video makers would soon be able to set up their own paid channels using YouTube’s infrastructure. In a conference call for reporters, Malik Ducard, the director of content partnerships for YouTube, suggested that this “self-service feature” was the most important piece of the announcement.

“As we roll out wider and as we roll out self-serve, you’ll see a lot of innovation,” he said, predicting that homegrown YouTube stars with fan followings would set up paid channels. YouTube’s plans for paid channels were widely reported this week, but the names of the participants were unknown then.

For YouTube, the paid channel plan gives the creators of videos — some of whom have been dissatisfied with the payments from the advertisements attached to their videos — a new way to profit from their popularity. The plan also gives YouTube a new source of revenue, although there are widespread doubts about whether people will be willing to pay for channels.

Mr. Ducard said viewers would pay with Google Wallet, the same system Google’s app store uses.

Absent from the list of partners on Thursday were all of the biggest media companies in the United States, like the Walt Disney Company and Comcast, which owns NBCUniversal.

Instead there were start-ups like the Rap Battle Network, Baby First TV and Cars.TV. Some of the partners have tried to gain distribution on cable and satellite television systems but view YouTube as another appealing way to gain an audience.

Several companies specializing in how-to videos are among the initial partners, including iAmplify, a producer of instructional workout videos. Another area of concentration is children’s programming: in addition to Sesame Workshop, there will be paid channels from National Geographic Kids and the Jim Henson Company. Henson will stream full episodes of shows like “Fraggle Rock.”

Mr. Ducard said all the paid channels would have 14-day free trials and many would offer discounted yearly rates for subscribers. In letting the channel owners set their own prices, YouTube and the partners hope to find out quickly what price ranges are most successful.

YouTube declined to say exactly how it would split the revenue from paid subscriptions with the producers of channels. It now keeps 45 percent of the revenue from the ads it sells and gives producers the rest. Mr. Ducard said the subscriber revenue split would be “very similar to the ad-support business.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/05/10/business/media/youtubes-pay-channels-include-sesame-street-and-mixed-martial-arts.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Media Decoder Blog: Michelle Obama’s ‘Mom Dancing’ on Jimmy Fallon Is a YouTube Hit

Michelle Obama with Jimmy Fallon, in a wig, performing “The Evolution of Mom Dancing,” which has become a YouTube hit.Lloyd Bishop/NBC Michelle Obama with Jimmy Fallon, in a wig, performing “The Evolution of Mom Dancing,” which has become a YouTube hit.

Michelle Obama may have drawn some criticism, especially in conservative circles, for showing up a week ago to hand out the Best Picture award at the Oscars. But interest in the first lady is surely intense, as proved by the continuing phenomenon of her guest appearance on NBC’s “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon.”

Mrs. Obama came to New York on the Friday before the Oscars to perform a comedy sketch with Mr. Fallon called “The Evolution of Mom Dancing.” It was an instant hit, picked up and replayed by numerous other television shows.

But the sketch’s real impact can be assessed by its popularity on YouTube. As of Saturday, a video of it had racked up nearly 13.6 million viewings. (It also appeared on numerous other Web sites, including NBC’s.)

Michael Shoemaker, the executive producer of “Late Night With Jimmy Fallon,” said the appearance by Mrs. Obama grew out of the show’s previous contact with the first lady. She had recruited Mr. Fallon a year ago to take part in a comedy moment to promote the second anniversary of her “Let’s Move” initiative. In that instance, Mr. Fallon traveled to the White House for a recorded sketch in which he competed against the first lady in events like tug of war and a sack race.

Mr. Shoemaker said his show, like all of its competitors in late-night television, had been trying to secure Mrs. Obama for a formal guest appearance since her husband was re-elected. With the third anniversary of the “Let’s Move” initiative approaching, “Late Night” contacted Mrs. Obama. The White House asked what the show had in mind. “Jimmy had done a previous piece about dad dances, and he said maybe we could do one on mom dances,” Mr. Shoemaker said.

“She loved it right away,” he said. “She even suggested some of the dances.”

But the sketch called for a series of synchronized dances performed by Mr. Fallon — dressed in a wig as a mother — and Mrs. Obama. She could not be expected to come to New York for rehearsals. So the show recorded a tape of one of its writers doing the dances and asked Mrs. Obama to learn them.

She showed up on Friday ready to perform. “She did no rehearsal with Jimmy,” Mr. Shoemaker said. “She just came in about 2 o’clock for the taping. She pretty much did it all in one take.”

Among the dances Mrs. Obama worked on enthusiastically with Mr. Fallon: the “Go Shopping, Get Groceries,” the “Driving the Station Wagon,” the “Just the Hands Part of ‘Single Ladies’ ” and “the Dougie.” (Mr. Fallon gave up and let her do that one on her own.)

“The first lady is really game,” Mr. Shoemaker said.

Article source: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/03/03/michelle-obama%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%98mom-dancing%E2%80%99-on-jimmy-fallon-is-a-youtube-hit/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Media Decoder Blog: Oxygen Drops Plans for ‘All My Babies’ Mamas’

The cable channel Oxygen has scrapped a show in development called “All My Babies’ Mamas” after the promotion of an online petition that condemned the channel, accusing it of exploiting and stereotyping black children and families.

“As part of our development process, we have reviewed casting and decided not to move forward with the special,” the channel said in a statement.

Sabrina Lamb, an author who started the petition against the show last month, said she was pleased that Oxygen “has heard the outrage of over 37,000 consumers and shareholders who said, ‘enough is enough.’”

The show idea, with the working title of “All My Babies’ Mamas,” was announced by Oxygen in late December. The channel said the show would be a one-hour special, not a regular series — though channels routinely use specials as a way to decide whether to order a series.

“All My Babies’ Mamas” was scheduled to have its premiere in the spring, but it was “cast-contingent,” meaning it would go ahead only if the talent — in this case, the father, the mothers and the children — were on board.

Then a Web site belonging to the production company behind the special, DiGa Vision, was broken into. A pitch reel soon popped up on YouTube that previewed how DiGa had sold the special to Oxygen: with video clips of the rapper Shawty Lo and his 11 children born to 10 women. A graphic read, “1 man, 10 baby mamas, 11 kids. Oh, and a new girlfriend … who is the same age as his oldest kids.”

Other families were considered for the special, as well. But the production company’s cameras had interviewed Shawty Lo, whose name is Carlos Walker, and his girlfriends and had even been present on Father’s Day last year.

The video clips disgusted Ms. Lamb, who rallied a number of activists and black commentators to support her petition on Change.org. It called for Oxygen to cancel the show and threatened an advertiser boycott. “With your voice,” the petition read, “this ugliness will not see international airwaves.”

Oxygen and the producers, meanwhile, were still considering who, if anyone, to cast for the show — a process that was sped up by the online uproar.

An Oxygen spokeswoman declined to comment on what specific effect the petition had on the decision-making. But the petition had 37,000 signatures by Tuesday morning, when copies of it were delivered to Oxygen in New York and its parent company, Comcast, in Philadelphia.

On Tuesday afternoon, Oxygen confirmed rumors that the special was not going to be produced, after all.

Article source: http://mediadecoder.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/01/16/oxygen-drops-plans-for-all-my-babies-mamas/?partner=rss&emc=rss

Social Media Strategy Crucial for Transit Agencies After Storm

“I have asked nicely several times about what’s going on with the 317 bus,” the rider, who identified herself as Mary Scandell, fumed on the Facebook page of New Jersey Transit a few days after Hurricane Sandy. “Now I’m gonna ask in a nasty way.”

Change the scene to New York. A commuter named Jim Temple posted a question on the Long Island Rail Road’s Facebook page, asking for a status update of the damaged Long Beach line. The railroad promptly replied. “Thank you for the info,” Mr. Temple answered.

If there is one lesson transit officials have learned from Hurricane Sandy, it is that in the Internet era, keeping riders up to date is just as important as tracks and rolling stock. Blow it, and they will let you know. As workers raced to bring washed-out tracks, flooded tunnels and swamped electrical equipment back online, they also faced the daunting task of keeping millions of riders informed of conditions and schedules that sometimes shifted by the minute, using tools that included Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and YouTube.

A look at how New Jersey Transit and the Long Island Rail Road communicated, as viewed through the prism of Facebook, showed how approaches to messaging could make the difference between shaping expectations or fueling the ire of customers forced to find new ways to get to work and home.

The Long Island Rail Road continually updated its Facebook page with photographs and videos of storm preparations before Hurricane Sandy hit. The dispatches continued as high winds and surge waters ripped down power lines and clogged rail lines with wayward boats and other debris. The agency frequently answered passengers’ questions and posted other helpful updates, like where to seek federal assistance for damaged homes.

New Jersey Transit also regularly updated its page — but did not start posting photographs until after noon on Oct. 30, after the storm had barreled through. It answered riders’ questions sporadically, sometimes referring them to incorrect information on its Web site, even as commuters grew more confused trying to figure out shifting schedules.

The result: the Long Island Rail Road conveyed a narrative of shared pain, of workers fighting back against unprecedented damage that was beyond their control. Passengers frequently and vociferously critical of the railroad suddenly sympathized and even praised communication efforts that, if not perfect, were viewed as improved.

New Jersey Transit’s communications, on the other hand, became for many commuters yet another source of misery.

“Long Island Rail Road learned the lesson of telling their riders what’s going on,” said Mitchell Moss, director of the Rudin Center for Transportation at the New York University Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. “And it turns out that is as important as the level of service you are providing.”

The Long Island Rail Road and New Jersey Transit also used Twitter extensively. But The New York Times examined the Facebook pages of each agency because they allow for more detailed comments — providing a deeper look at how passengers were viewing communications — and more of a back-and-forth discussion. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which was also criticized for its communications, used Twitter but does not have a Facebook page.

New Jersey Transit has come under scrutiny after the storm damaged more than 300 train cars and locomotives parked in rail yards in Hoboken and the Meadowlands that prestorm warnings indicated would flood.

But even before that decision became widely known, passenger tensions were spiking.

New Jersey Transit officials defended their communications throughout and after the storm.

“We were tweeting information practically 24 hours a day,” said John Durso Jr., the agency’s spokesman. He said the agency also continually updated its Web site; sent out e-mail alerts; placed advertisements in newspapers on emergency shuttle, bus and ferry service; and made frequent appearances on television and radio broadcasts.

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/12/15/nyregion/social-media-strategy-crucial-for-transit-agencies-after-storm.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

Advertising: Companies Try a Personal Touch Seen by Thousands

The mushroom was, in fact, Mel, the mascot from the Mellow Mushroom Pizza Bakers chain, but Ms. Plyler, who was with her mother-in-law, did not recognize him as such. When she turned around to look at Mel, he stood motionless, and it unsettled her.

“I am deathly terrified of people in mascot-type uniforms, and he was really creepy because he has almost like this blank stare like he was staring right through you,” Ms. Plyler said in a telephone interview.

It turns out that Ms. Plyler, 25, a law student at the North Carolina Central University School of Law, had recently begun to follow Mellow Mushroom on Twitter. And Mellow Mushroom, which like many businesses reciprocally follows consumers on Twitter, had decided as a promotional stunt to follow some of those consumers in the literal sense — and to bring a film crew.

Six hidden cameras, in places like a portable toilet, a van and inside the mushroom costume, documented Ms. Plyler’s reaction as she was followed around the market.

On Oct. 22, Mellow Mushroom posted the video featuring Ms. Plyler on YouTube. The ominous score of a horror movie plays as Mel lurks behind her. When he gets to within arm’s reach, she turns around, and Mel slowly raises an arm and slowly extends and lowers each of his fingers in succession in an oddly menacing wave.

The video cuts to Ms. Plyler happily sharing a slice of pizza with Mel at a table set up in a parking lot. It closes with the text, “Follow us and we’ll follow you,” and directs viewers to FollowMellow.com, a tab on the company’s Facebook page that features several more videos of other Twitter users being stalked by Mel and a second mushroom mascot, Dude.

The videos are by Fitzgerald Company in Atlanta, part of McCann Worldgroup, which is owned by the Interpublic Group of Companies. Production is by Arts and Sciences and direction is by Adam Brodie and Dave Derewlany.

In early October, the crew secretly filmed about 20 Twitter users being followed by the mascots, and Mellow Mushroom continues to add new videos to YouTube from the outings. The agency used social networks, especially Facebook, to contact relatives and friends to act as confederates — in Ms. Plyler’s case, her mother-in-law — to help coordinate the stunt.

“We have such an irreverent brand that we thought it would be cool and interesting to really follow consumers not just on Twitter but in a real-world way,” said Annica Kreider, vice president of brand development at Mellow Mushroom, which was founded in 1974 in Atlanta and has about 130 restaurants across the country. “Part of why we do things like this is to say that we are a different brand and we aren’t going to give you the same old sales propaganda.”

Brands typically use social networks as extensions of their customer service departments, monitoring Twitter and Facebook for complaints, and mollifying consumers before they get so fed up that they do something like post negative online reviews or rant in a YouTube video.

But brands also increasingly are using social networks in more idiosyncratic ways to win over fans through acts of whimsy.

On Oct. 8, for example, Richard Neill, a Facebook user, jokingly posted on the wall for Bodyform, a feminine care brand sold by SCA Personal Care in Britain. Euphemistic Bodyform commercials Mr. Neill saw as a child, he wrote, gave him warped expectations.

“As a child I watched your advertisements with interest as to how at this wonderful time of the month that the female gets to enjoy so many things,” wrote Mr. Neill, saying that he had been jealous he could not also partake in a monthly flurry of activity that included bicycling, roller coaster riding, dancing and parachuting.

But Mr. Neill continued that, far from such activities and from innocuous product demos using blue fluid, when he finally had a girlfriend and that “time of the month” arrived, she changed from “loving” and “gentle” to “the little girl from the exorcist with added venom and extra 360 degree head spin.”

Bodyform has fewer than 7,500 followers on Facebook, and Mr. Neill has only about 415 friends on the social network, but the post was shared so often that more than 100,000 users have read it and clicked the “like” icon.

On Oct. 16, eight days after Mr. Neill’s post, Bodyform posted a video on YouTube and Facebook that responded to Mr. Neill directly.

In the video, an actress who identifies herself as the Bodyform chief executive sits at a desk and pours herself a glass of blue liquid from a pitcher.

“We lied to you Richard, and I want to say ‘Sorry,’ ” she says. “What you’ve seen in our advertising so far isn’t a factual representation of events.”

After admitting that during periods some women get cramps, mood swings and “blood coursing from our uteri,” she takes a sip of the blue fluid. A sound comes from her chair, and she adds, “Ooh, sorry Richard, you did know that we do that too, didn’t you?”

The video has garnered more than 3.2 million views on YouTube. It is by Carat, London, part of Aegis Group, with production by Rubber Republic, also in London.

“I don’t think we could have done that with above-the-line advertising,” said Anne McCreary, digital strategy director at Carat, referring to the provocative humor in the video. “But for brands to be relevant to consumers, they have to develop a new way of interacting with consumers that is much more about responding to them.”

Article source: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/11/08/business/media/companies-try-a-personal-touch-seen-by-thousands.html?partner=rss&emc=rss