Rainbow’s Carroll: Content Is Key

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It’s easy to get caught up in the rhetoric of being a multiplatform provider, according to Rainbow Media president of entertainment services Ed Carroll.

The thing to remember, he said, is the platform is still just the delivery method, and not all content is appropriate for all platforms.

“There’s this content there for all different tastes,” Carroll said during a CTAM Summit panel session here last Tuesday, referring to traditional television and broadband channels. “You roll around to see what works.”

He cited IFC’s first original on-the-Web series, Getting Away With Murder. “That probably wouldn’t have been too successful on TV, but online it has been very successful.”

Carroll and other panelists stressed ideas should hold the higher premium, and strategy for multiplatform distribution should come second.

When ESPN took over the Monday Night Football franchise from ABC last year, research revealed that so much of the consumer’s experience surrounded the ritual of a Monday-night event to look forward to. So ESPN created the “Is It Monday Yet?” campaign, the “heart and soul” of which came in the form of traditional TV spots they tailored for each day of the week in a countdown format.

“We actually changed each spot each day, so we incorporated footage from the game before or a promotion for the game coming up,” ESPN senior vice president of marketing Katie Lacey said.

The TV countdown ads translated well into online ads, which the network then supported with a YouTube channel buy. “It was a place to create a community online as well as tap into the YouTube phenomenon.”

ESPN also used print ads, signs and banners, including a branded bus tour in designated markets. The result: More than 11 million household impressions for the New York Giants-Dallas Cowboys game in October 2006; an average 24 million page views on ESPN.com on Mondays throughout the season; and the No. 1 spot in Monday primetime rankings for the football season, Lacey said.

ESPN is now rolling out another campaign for Fantasy Football, which, while mostly relevant to the Internet, does lend itself to some promotional opportunities on traditional TV and print.

Kevin Aratari, managing director and head of broadcast marketing at mOcean, noted the growing prevalence of platform improvisation.

“There’s a lot of Frankenstein-ing going on right now when it comes to creative in the multiplatform world,” said Aratari, who was behind multimedia efforts promoting Pirates of the Caribbean and Spider-Man among other theatricals.

But in the end, he said, “content is still king.” If the material isn’t compelling enough to warrant the time for clicking and downloading, then it doesn’t matter how many platforms a marketer reaches.

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