In the Trenches: Random rants, musings and media tales about the US writers’ strike

In the mystifying midst of the screenwriters' strike down south, MiC is kicking off another series of opinion pieces from marketing professionals. Today, as scribes and producers trudge back to the bargaining table in L.A., two execs from Dentsu Canada weigh in.

Dentsu Canada communications manager Christine Wilson says it’s a good time to buy TV for men, and to negotiate aggressively. But interactive communications manager Min Ryuck is concerned about the lack of attention paid by press stories to the strike’s impact on other media, like online.

Are you revising plans now?

Wilson: ‘The writers’ strike has not greatly affected the TV planning process against male demographics. TV planning against men is typically weighted heavily on sports, business and news, and then layered with specialty that can be extremely diverse, depending on the nuances of the target’s interests and habits.

‘Canadian specialty channels and Canadian-produced programs are not affected by the strike and continue to produce and air fresh programming. Let’s face it, men watch sports, and sports broadcasts are all full steam ahead. PGA Golf just started, NHL hockey is in full swing, NFL Football has just about ended, with the Super Bowl approaching, and NASCAR racing is just around the corner.’

What do you think the impact will be on viewing patterns?

Wilson: ‘TV viewing really won’t be altered much, with the possible exception of late-night talk, e.g., Jon Stewart. But late-night heavyweights Letterman, Leno and Conan are back in action, either writing their own material or, in Letterman’s case, reaching an independent agreement.

‘On the drama front, many top-rated adult programs have a limited supply of new episodes, but stations are pulling out all the stops. For example, Dexter, available previously only on Showtime in the US and Movie Network in Canada, is heading to CBS and CTV starting Feb. 17 at 10 pm.

‘Other properties, like Prison Break and Lost, are launching this Jan/Feb and will hold and potentially even increase audiences, as there is less competition. As far as we’re concerned, it’s a good time to buy TV for men, and even better for buyers to be aggressive in their negotiations!’

What aspect of the strike merits more attention than it’s getting?

Ryuck:‘While a lot of press stories have covered the impact of the strike on TV advertisers, very few have acknowledged the impact on other media such as online. Entertainment coverage for high-profile shows is crucial content for many online publishers. The recent cancellation of the Golden Globes has resulted in a loss to publishers selling this content and for advertisers who wish to align themselves with the glitz and glamour of such an event.

‘Let’s face it, we’ve all gone to the web to check out who won what and, more importantly, who wore what! It’s a refreshing break from the ongoing coverage of the train wreck that is Britney Spears.

‘More importantly, the online industry itself has been pushing broadband, video pre-roll, etc., and gaining significant momentum. However, with the lack of new programming available, publishers, advertisers and, more importantly, online users are suffering.’