February 14, 2009

My Guy - Gene DeWitt

Dear friends,

I am posting this message to all of you who knew my husband, Gene DeWitt. As I did not get the opportunity to see some of you at the funeral, I wanted to thank you for sharing in my family’s celebration of Gene’s life. I especially hope that you enjoyed the music because music was so important to Gene, and he requested that it be a special part of his service.

While you all are probably very familiar with Gene’s accomplished career, you may not be aware of his love for his family and New York City, which I believe is worth sharing and I hope somewhat inspirational to you.

Gene and I are joined in our family by five daughters, three husbands and one to be, and a darling 11-month-old grandson, Cooper, who Gene adored. Gene was active in keeping our family together as a group and called for each of us to be extraordinary individuals. Gene loved us all unselfishly and was a great role model for any father or grandfather. Gene always pushed us to learn more, too. One summer, he had us all read Shakespeare, another Faulkner. He was also keen on getting conversations and debates started on topics ranging from politics, to art, to music.

My story with Gene is of a real old-fashioned romance; it’s about love at first site and the magic of New York City. When I met Gene, I had the sensation of meeting a great man with powerful ideas. We took advantage of everything the city has to offer, both as a couple and with our children. It was not a rare occasion to have the ballet, opera, a class at NYU and a dinner with friends all in one week. Gene was fond of saying that we had spent 35 years together in our true 7 ½ years. Based on all this experience, I was lucky enough to have Gene dub me as a quintessential New Yorker this New Years Eve.

Gene was incredibly courageous during his battle with lymphoma and later pancreatic cancer. He was always willing to try new treatments and never gave up the fight, even in his last days. He also made it important to understand his disease and to not become a victim of it. Lastly, as I’m sure many of you experienced through the years, he never let his life become about cancer. He still enjoyed all the city had to offer and time with our family. Gene was still Gene, he was not a cancer patient.

Gene loved life and lived it in a big way. I hope you all will help me carry on this legacy by following his example.

With warm regards and appreciation,

Dianne DeWitt



February 27, 2008

The Media Age Has Moved

The Media Age blog has moved to a new location. Please click here to go to The Media Age's latest posts.

February 22, 2008

NBC Adopts "Endless Season" We Predicted Last Week

Bill Carter and Stuart Elliott writing in the NY Times wrote on Wednesday that "It soon may be time to retire the phrase "fall television season" in reporting that NBC had announced the day before "that it would move to a year-round schedule of staggered program introductions."

Take a look at our post from the week before headed "The Endless Season".

I don't know if Jeff Zucker or Mike Pilot read our blog but they and their competitors at the other networks should.

Do them all a favor and forward us to them.

February 12, 2008

Writers Strike addendum

In today's New York Times, Stuart Elliott discusses the implications of the Writers' Strike settlement on television programming and possible longer term effects on network ad sales practices. This is an interesting supplement to yesterday's post.

February 11, 2008

The Endless Season: How the Writers’ Strike May Forever Change the Face of the TV Business

Introducing new shows one at a time throughout the year will be seen to be a much better strategy for programming, promotional and profit success.

1. The Pilot ‘Season’ Will Become an Ongoing Year-Round Development Process

A compressed pilot season has jacked up the competition and prices for writers during a few months. Commissioning dozens of pilots simultaneously simply drives up the prices writers can charge. In addition, programming decisions are made quickly and sometimes badly.

Nevertheless, the networks will now undoubtedly engage in a panic of last minute development to try to salvage the season and set a proper stage for an upfront.

However, looking beyond this year, I think it is highly likely that the strike has convinced network managers that year-round pilot development would result in lower costs, better programs and improved ratings and profit.

2. Introduce New Programs throughout the Year

In rethinking ‘pilot season’, the networks will also want to reconsider the whole idea of a ‘broadcast year’.

The mid-September to mid-September ‘Broadcast Year’ originated with the desire of automobile companies to have primetime showcases for their new model introductions in the Fall.

This was never in the networks’ interests (and probably not that great for the auto companies) because all of the simultaneous and competing introductions of dozens of TV shows could only confuse viewers, reduce sampling of new shows and result in a high mortality rate for the new programs.

From an advertiser’s point of view, the broadcast calendar coincides with no one’s marketing plan or fiscal budget.

From a network perspective, it cannot make sense to stage an annual face-off in which their most expensive and fragile products are burned off in one big electronic bonfire.

3. The Endless Season

So let’s look forward to an ‘endless season’ in which new TV programs are developed, introduced and promoted one at a time throughout the year. Will it work? Ask HBO.

February 7, 2008

Hello Macy's! All Sales are Local

In today’s WSJ, Vanessa O'Connel writes about Macy’s CEO’s admission that its national strategy was flawed.

With January same store sales down over 7% that would seem to be an understatement.

Management’s response: fire 2,500 people and consolidate back office operations. No mention of reductions in management compensation…

It is axiomatic in retail marketing that “all sales are local”. Ignoring that fundamental precept of retailing, Macy’s CEO Terry Lundren cut back on local ads and poured tens of millions of dollars into “splashy national TV ads.”

Brick and mortar retailing requires

· Weekly sales circulars to bring the regular customer in more frequently,

· Regular sales promotions in newspapers and on local radio.

· TV can work on top of this base but given TV production costs is often not cost effective for local features.

If affordable after funding priority local efforts such as these, a relatively small continuity base in cheap daytime cable television could support a branding effort. I’d prefer local outdoor around each store location: billboards, mall posters, etc.

Note: Please credit clairegeordio for the photo above.

February 6, 2008

Anecdotes/David Ogilvy on Getting New Business

At Ogilvy & Mather, David Ogilvy himself would sometimes come into the agency cafeteria and sit down with anyone he chose and open a spirited conversation with the surprised employee.

One day I was privileged to have this charming fellow join me over my tuna sandwich.

It was I think in 1971 when I had been with the agency for five years, having risen from media planner to assistant media director and tripled my salary in the process.

The agency had grown during that period from about $60 million in billings in I think only one office in 1966 to nearly $500 million in 1971 with an expanding global base of business.
It was a great career ‘ride’ so I was delighted to have a chance to meet the great man one on one.

He asked me about myself, what I did, etc. Then he asked me whether I had any questions about the agency itself?

I told him that I was amazed and delighted by the rapidity of the agency’s new business growth and asked him what his ‘secret’ formula was?

He told me something that has always proven useful to me. He said that when he did everything he could think of to market the agency--- public relations, white papers, advertising*, building relations with top media owners and managers, original research**--- to name just a few things that I recall, he got ‘lucky’ with new business but he couldn’t pinpoint one tactic that drove the process. On the other hand, he said that when he didn’t do everything more or less constantly and consistently, the new business flow seemed to dry up.

And that’s how it worked out for me when I sought to create and build DeWitt Media, Inc., in the 1980’s and 1990’s. I kept a post-it list of everything I could possibly do to attract positive attention to the agency stuck to my pc monitor and tried to at least work on every item every day. What was on the list? Newsletters, PR, mailings, even cold calls worked. During that latter period when agency search consultants entered the business, it became critical to build awareness and relationships with these folks. What are the elements of an effective new business program today?

Everything you can think of. And try to move each peanut along every day. That’s how to get lucky with new business!

*D.O. wrote a series of amazing ads for the agency that ran in Ad Age and that listed his famous ‘rules’ for advertising, targeted to specific business categories in which he wanted clients; e.g., ten rules for food advertising, six rules for travel marketers, etc.

**Ogilvy had been a researcher for the Gallup organization early in his career and he believed that bringing prospective clients new information about their businesses was a critical way to get meetings and assignments.