Advertisers Are Integral

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Linda Yaccarino sees advertisers as more than just the folks who buy 30-second spots on Turner’s cable networks: She has turned them into integral parts of the TNT and TBS brands.

Yaccarino, executive VP of sales and marketing at Turner Entertainment, has created several ground-breaking co-marketing promotions in her 10-plus years at the company.

Perhaps most notably, she helped design Johnson & Johnson’s Spotlight Presentation, a high-quality made-for-TNT movie package that has been running on the network for five years. Its 10 movies—including Door to Door and The Wool Cap, both starring William H. Macy—have won six Emmy Awards.

More recently, she crafted a deal with Unilever to produce and air a series of co-branded two-minute interstitials, or “lovebites,” that ran on TBS last fall. She also spearheaded TBS’ partnership with online dating site to promote sitcom My Boys; Toyota’s commercial-free sponsorship of the third season premiere of TNT’s The Closer; and TBS’ “Dinner and a Movie,” which adds sponsors and interstitial cooking segments to the network’s Friday-night films.

“What I find fascinating is the challenge of trying to put the right programs in place and then matching advertising partnerships to them,” says Yaccarino.

Although the 30-second commercial spot remains safe at Turner, Yaccarino’s branded partnerships have helped evolve the industry’s approach to advertising, according to those who have worked with her.

“Linda’s always been ahead of the curve as it relates to thinking like a marketing partner,” says Shari Cohen, president/co-executive director, national television, at Mindshare, who worked with Yaccarino on lovebites. “She understands brands and how to take content and marry it to them.”

Says Yaccarino, “My job is to try to balance the expectations between the network and our advertisers. Content needs to come first, and it needs to resonate with the viewer. You have to make sure that the association with the advertiser is natural to the content. That’s when you experience a big win.”

For this summer, Yaccarino has arranged plenty of advertising partnerships for Turner launches, including Tyler Perry’s House of Payne (June 6), Heartland (June 18), The Bill Engvall Show (July 17), Saving Grace (July 18) and Ridley Scott’s The Company (Aug. 5).

Her latest advertising innovation, “Bitcoms,” premieres this year. “Bitcoms” are branded short-form comedies that will transition shows into more-traditional commercial breaks. And Yaccarino is working on the rebranding of Court TV, set to debut in January.

Yaccarino knows the importance of partnerships: She has been married for 18 years and has a son Matthew, 15, and a daughter Christian, 11.