A week before ViacomCBS would normally hold its annual upfronts bash at New York’s Carnegie Hall—which, like every other in-person upfronts week event, was canceled due to the Covid-19 pandemic—the company has set a new strategy for its first upfront since CBS and Viacom merged last December.
Instead of its May 13 event, the company will hold a pair of virtual presentations over two days—on Monday, May 18 and Tuesday, May 19—said Jo Ann Ross吉吉av电影, president and chief advertising revenue officer of domestic ad sales at ViacomCBS, to clients and agencies in a letter this afternoon.
The first day of the ViacomCBS Upfont @Home presentation will focus on the company’s combined assets and solutions, as well as a first look at shows across its cable networks, Pluto TV吉吉av电影 and its digital platforms. During the second day’s event, ViacomCBS will unveil CBS’ fall programming lineup, and spotlight programming from CBS All Access, CBS Sports (including Super Bowl LV, which CBS is scheduled to air on Feb. 7, 2021) and CBS News.
In other words, the May 18 event will take the place of the Viacom-focused agency dinners that had been planned for last month, while the May 19 presentation is a replacement for the traditional CBS soiree at Carnegie Hall.
吉吉av电影“Our newly integrated team across ViacomCBS has come together even more quickly than I could have expected despite the pressure of extenuating circumstances,” Ross wrote in the letter. “This incredible progress gives me optimism for the days ahead. We have already achieved what we hoped to accomplish in bringing our sales organizations together—one team with a unified mission to provide you with the most powerful, seamless advertising solutions in the industry.”
As Adweek has previously reported, both buyers and sellers agree that this year’s upfront marketplace will operate on a staggered timetable, with buyers entering negotiations whenever their clients are ready to think about their long-term spend. For some categories that are thriving now, such as consumer packed goods, that will be in the next month or two, but for several others—including those hit hardest by the pandemic such as travel, dine-in restaurants and automotive—it is more likely that they’ll negotiate later in the year, shifting to a calendar upfront.
In her letter, Ross proclaimed a willingness to be similarly flexible with her company’s upfront talks: “We’re here for you whenever you’re ready. The ViacomCBS Ad Sales team will collaborate with you on your timeline to adapt your strategies, engage your consumers on the platforms they love most, amplify your messages and achieve your business goals.”
When May’s in-person upfronts week presentations were canceled on March 12, most media companies were vague about their plans, mentioning they would instead produce a streaming event. At that time, ViacomCBS was one of only two presenters (along with WarnerMedia/Xandr) that explicitly committed to sharing those video presentations during their previously scheduled upfront week timeframes, though it was assumed that most companies would stick to the same schedule.
But in the following weeks, as the novel coronavirus continued to wreak havoc on the industry and the country, it became clear that this year’s upfront marketplace could not move forward as planned, and most companies delayed their virtual events.
However, both NBCUniversal and Univision later opted to hold livestreamed events for advertisers next week during the same time they would have held their upfronts week events: the morning of May 11 for NBCU, and the afternoon of May 12 for Univision. But both companies stressed that the events are not replacements for their original upfront presentations, and will instead be more focused on the current state of the marketplace.
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