The departure of Ben Silverman from NBC has stirred up a lot of news chatter that this hammers yet another nail in the coffin of the traditional production company. As co-chair of NBC Universal Entertainment, Silverman was responsible for bringing the same programming flair he originally brought to his company Reveille, with such big hits as The Office and The Biggest Loser, translating many foreign hits into popular US shows. Silverman was also known for exploring new ad models. Now he’s leaving the company to start up a new venture in partnership with Barry Diller’s media and Internet company, IAC.
Anytime you mention “360” these days as a description for a new content model (which has been part of most of the press today), you have to raise an eyebrow and think, oh lordy, Silverman wants to be a cross platform cool kid. As my dear colleague, brand strategy expert Brian Seth Hurst twittered, “repurposed distribution does not a cross media value proposition make.”
This is the problem we run into all the time on the advertising side of the model. People panicking about how do they get in the game, stay in the game, with the words “cross-platform” flying around. Just stick your content on all the new platforms. Then you can say you’re digital! The truth is we’re talking about creating communications or marketing strategies, like we always have in the advertising business and what you still need to know about your brand is what are you selling , who are you selling too and what’s the best way to reach that audience. None of these are solo propositions and they all have to work in harmony.
At the Lab, we often talk about having a “content strategy.” Understanding that the average consumer’s day is filled with many different communications channels and their interaction with these channels is varied and cognitively different, we have to evolve our content based on these channels. And yes, it’s a fragmented world and far more complex for your average media agency, but it’s not really about media. It’s still a story you’re telling within the confines of a consumer’s interaction with a platform. With proper research, client data and an understanding of how these new platforms work, the world is your oyster. The Lab is helping agencies carve out this information in partnership with content owners. And folks, it’s gotta be a partnership.
Silverman himself states that he’s creating a new company that’s’ akin to a “Warner Bros. meets BBDO.”
But seriously, what’s so new about that?Â Hello Bob “Texaco” Hope and the Colgate hour. And even the concept of a “new platform”Â is not so new. The only thing that’s new here is we’re not talking just radio or traditional broadcast TV. New technology has brought speed and accountability to the playing field but we’re still just looking at how do people behave and what are their touch points throughout their day.
Still, I have high hopes for Silverman’s upcoming gig at IAC. Diller has a way of shaping golden boys and perhaps the hype is just that, business as usual but here’s hoping there’s some real innovation coming down the pike. I look forward to sitting down at the table with IAC and a host of other content creators to brainstorm on some relevant and cohesive business models.