MediaWorks has been in the news a bit recently, with the unexpected departure of its TV wunderkind Jason Paris and continuing discussion about the sizable debts of its owner Ironbridge. But it's not all bad: its two-channel strategy appears to be paying off in terms of share, ad revenue is up and general manager of integration Melanie Reece says the "sleeping giant" of branded content and product placement is starting to wake up, as evidenced by the success of New Zealand's Next Top Model and the inclusion of new sponsors like 2degrees into the show.
TVNZ's MasterChef is undoubtedly the most successful show in this regard in New Zealand, but Next Top Model is in a similar league; a strange and lucrative beast where paid-for advertising messages can be inserted into editorial content without greatly affecting viewer numbers. For broadcasters, it's the epitome of a win-win. And for sponsors, it's a great way to bring their brand to life by featuring their products in a relevant show.
The challenge for Whybin\TBWA and Tequila\ was to weave the proposition for 2degrees' $19 Combo Pack into last week's episode, and, at the same time, create campaign assets from the show that could be used across other media, including online display, branded content channels, on-demand video placements, TVCs, retail and social media.
“We developed a challenge for the contestants to create their own best ‘physical’ combos," says Ross Howard, creative director at Tequila\. "Each team took photographs on 2degrees LG handsets and submitted them for judging on a 2degrees Acer Iconia Tablet by the NZNTM panel [executive creative director Andy Blood even made a brief appearance on the show]. The winning team was then ushered to a studio location to feature in a shoot for a series of images that would be used for the display creative.
“The display creative continues to play off the combination and wardrobe matching activities of the modelling industry, inviting viewers to participate in discovering their perfect combo of model and fashion style. This brought the $19 Combo Pack to life in a way that was an interesting and valuable addition to the show’s content."
Next Top Model is an undoubted jewel in the MediaWorks crown, both in terms of commercial involvement and ratings (the first show of season three grew its audience in all the key demographics compared with the first episode of the second season in 2010). But it's not an isolated success. In fact, TV3 and FOUR claim to have bucked the trend in June to grow peak ratings and share in the key 18-49 and 25-54 demographics, compared with May.
"The MediaWorks stable mates were the only Free-to-Air channels to enjoy audience growth [in June]; TV ONE and TV2 have both shed primetime viewers since May," the release said.
In June, TV3’s peak channel (6pm-1:30pm) share in the target 25-54 demographic hit a 2011 high, growing by 3.4 percent since May to 21.3, while TV ONE lost ground, dropping its 25-54 peak share by 6.6 percent to 22.5.
FOUR achieved its highest ever peak monthly share of the 18-49 audience with 6.3, a 10.5 percent increase compared with May and a 26 percent year-on-year increase compared with the equivalent May figures for C4 in 2010.
MediaWorks said TV2’s primetime share fell by 4.5 percent in the 18-49 demo, and by 5.3 percent in TV2’s target demographic of 18-39, compared with May 2011. As expected, a recent TVNZ release is accentuating the positive, however, saying TV2 "has enjoyed another fantastic week of growth with share gains yoy to 33.3 percent, which is an increase of 18 percent, the highest recorded share for Week 26 since 2003".
MediaWorks group managing director Sussan Turner, who will take up the TV reins from Paris when he departs after working out his notice, says the June results vindicate the company’s new two-channel strategy, which saw C4 relaunched as 18-49-friendly channel FOUR in February 2011 and TV3’s target demographic shift to 25-54.
“3 News [which has just launched new livery] and Campbell Live have again led the way in covering breaking news," she says. "Campbell Live’s efforts in getting to the heart of the issues arising from the multiple earthquakes in Christchurch have been recognised by the wider community and both 3News and Campbell led coverage of the ‘Alasdair Thompson Affair. 3 News was the only News service to mount a special programme on Te Tai Tokerau on the night of the by-election."