Pia Musngi

Contact Pia by sending an email to pmusngi@brunico.com

Articles by Pia Musngi

CTV debuts mobile video news, multi-channel broadband, seven new shows for fall

CTV typically unveils with a bang and yesterday was no exception. The net announced the launch yesterday of a multi-channel broadband service featuring full-length programs on ctv.ca, a slew of new acquisitions and a video mobile news service.


***News Flash*** CHUM announces its plans for fall

CHUM’s got something for everyone in the fall, offering a mix of newly-acquired American properties, Canadian productions and returning favourites.

New to the net for fall are:
· Betty the Ugly, a Salma Hayek-produced series from ABC about a plain gal’s adventures in the world of fashion publishing;
· CBS’ Jericho chronicles the drama of residents in a small town plunged into chaos after witnessing a nuclear mushroom cloud;
· American Idol‘s Mr. Nasty, Simon Cowell, is behind the FOX property, Duets, which pairs singers with non-singers;
· Seasons one and two of the HBO hit, Entourage, a show about young hotshots in Hollywood;
· ABC’s Men in Trees stars Anne Heche as a relationship coach with a failed relationship;
· TV personality and chef Rachael Ray will host the new, daily Rachael Ray

The net’s midseason pickups include the CW’s Hidden Palms about a 15-year-old striving to unearth the secrets of his neighbours. CBS’ 3 Lbs., starring Stanley Tucci, follows a brain surgeon’s experience with his own neurological problem. Finally, in mid-season Canuck programming, there’s Terminal City which stars Ally McBeal‘s Gil Bellows. The show follows the life of a woman diagnosed with cancer.

Returning series include: Everybody Hates Chris, America’s Next Top Model, 7th Heaven, Supernatural, Smallville, Supernanny, Battlestar Galactica, Monk, The Bachelor, The Ellen Degeneres Show, Jimmy Kimmel, Late Night with Conan O’Brien, The Tonight Show and America’s Funniest Home Videos.

MuchMusic properties for fall are The Grinder, a series of music video-inspired pranks and Music is my Life, a show that features folks’ life soundtracks. Meanwhile, MuchMoreMusic will air Back in Love, a series that reveals Hollywood celeb secrets. Jumping the Couch chronicles a pop idol’s fame and subsequent decline.

New Canadian programs for Space include The Triangle, Motel Man and Ice Planet (in pre-production). The first series stars Eric Stoltz and chronicles the adventures of specialist hired to analyze the Bermuda Triangle. Motel Man is about a homicide detective who stumbles into a bizarre motel room. And finally, Ice Planet follows a spacecraft crew who crash into a planet of ice.


***NEWS FLASH*** CanWest goes shopping for primetime, picks up 14 dramas and eight comedies

In advance of their Fall Launch event slated for Wednesday, June 7, the folks at CanWest have unveiled their 2006 primetime shopping list in a bid to drive advanced buzz. The net has picked up a total of 14 dramas and eight comedies along with a roster of returning favourites.

‘I think it’s good that they’re trying to create a buzz so early,’ says Helena Shelton, SVP, broadcast operations at Toronto’s The Media Company. ‘We’re all in the business of advertising so why not advertise what you’ve got? It doesn’t hurt.’ Shelton adds that placement, however, is the bigger story. ‘It’s [a question of] where do they fall? What are they up against? That’s what will be of more interest later.’


Corus Custom Networks starts up digital signage division

Corus is getting in the digital signage game. The new division is expected to go after retail and corporate clients creating content for their digital networks, says Paul Bzeta, manager of production and digital signage and head of the new 10-person division. The digital signage content will be created around W and CMT programming. Bzeta explains: ‘If a major advertiser wanted to do a campaign for the fall for TV, we can extend this to include digital signage in-store. We would created sponsored content on W to keep the messaging consistent [across TV and digital signage platforms].’ He adds that the group is also able to work with retailers to create content specific to their network. No deals have yet been inked.


Dose halts printing, moves to offer more online and via mobile

The year-old, multi-platform Dose (a property of CanWest MediaWorks) has ceased production of its daily print format and is moving instead into a more comprehensive online service and increasing its wireless content offerings. When asked for comment, Hugh Dow, president of M2 Universal in Toronto says the lack of significant advertising was a big clue. ‘We speculated it to change [its format] to a weekly instead of a daily. That was viewed as more likely and this was not expected and is certainly more drastic.’ Dow says that the paper faced significant competition in the markets where it was offered.

As a result of the change, dose.ca will become the youth channel of the Canada.com network. Perhaps it’s a sign of the times for Dose‘s 18-34 demo. While there has been a lack of advertisers for its print property, dose.ca has gained significantly online. Comscore MediaMetrix reports that monthly uniques number more than 160,000 and a survey done by Ipsos-Reid finds that dose.ca visitors are visiting frequently and spending a lot of time on the site. Dow agreed with the strategy to move Dose online. ‘Without question the digital arena is a considerable avenue of growth. It’s certainly a priority for us.’


Multimedia Frisk campaign is honestly mouth-opening

The folks behind the new Frisk campaign are banking on the notion that honesty is like a breath of fresh air. But what about brutal honesty? The campaign, promoting new Frisk Liquids is entitled ‘don’t be afraid to open your mouth’ and ups brand interactivity by way of a website (openyourmouth.ca) complete with snarky virtual host, talking OOH, and brand ambassadors trained to say what’s really on their minds.


Tvtropolis hooks up with Sears to invade your metropolis in June

CanWest MediaWorks is flexing its multi-platform muscle and aligning with strategic partners to hawk its newest baby. In time for the June 1 launch of specialty Tvtropolis, the net slated to take over where Prime once was — the company is using its TV, print and online properties to give folks a taste of what’s to come.


Christian group leverages DaVinci Code buzz with faith-based media

Campus Crusade for Christ Canada is selling Jesus via a multi-platform campaign that leverages the buzz around the upcoming film, The Da Vinci Code. And while some faith-based groups are advocating a ban on the film, this evangelical group, based out of Langley, B.C., is instead encouraging folks to watch the film as a way to start a dialogue about Jesus Christ. Elements in the campaign include an online blog at discussdavinci.com, DM pieces aimed at church leaders throughout the country, a 20-page magazine, cards touting the blog site, as well as radio, print and theatre ad buys.


Showcase launches phase two of its ‘thanks’ campaign – and targets the media buyer

Showcase knows a good thing when it sees one and is building on its successful ‘Thanks, Showcase’ campaign because of it. New this time around is the ability for consumers to share cheeky ads via downloads on showcase.ca beginning next week, an expanded national campaign including new markets such as Calgary, Edmonton, Winnipeg, Hamilton and Halifax (in addition to Toronto and Vancouver) – and even a campaign directly targeted to the media buyer.


The Digital Future Project study: Social network site users want their 15 megabytes of fame

Sympatico/MSN held its annual Digital Ad summit last week, attended by a crowd of marketers, agency types and media. Presenter Jeffrey Cole, director of the L.A.-based Center for the Digital Future, shared key trends gleaned from the research field, specifically from a year-over-year study entitled The Digital Future Project. The Project explores the influence of the Web on Americans and in this year’s study, Cole found that for the first time in its history, kids are watching less TV because of the Net.


Axe Dry sponsors a TV show – with no product placement

If the Axe brand were a guy, he’d likely be full-on with the ladies. And so wouldn’t he be best to teach guys 18-24 about how to dodge the ‘Gamekillers’? The iconic personal care brand is set to launch the Gamekillers campaign in Canada in support of the launch of new antiperspirant, Axe Dry. Gamekillers is based on the notion that there are characters in life that keep guys from hooking up with girls. Visit Gamekillers.com and you’ll be introduced to characters such as the One-Upper, or the Mother Hen or the Mess. The site also features downloadable ringtone, mini-movies and desktop backgrounds. Central to the campaign is a branded Gamekillers reality TV special originally produced for MTV in the U.S. by Bartle Bogle Hegarty and @radical.media (both of New York). In Canada, Gamekillers will air on Saturday, April 22 at 10 p.m. on the Comedy Network. And while the show is sponsored by the brand, don’t bother searching for Axe Dry to make its expected appearance in the background. Instead, two TV spots (called ‘show-mercials’) were created around the program to mimic the look and content of the show – animated vignettes that detail the do’s and don’t's when confronted with a Gamekiller, followed by the tag line: ‘Keep your cool. Axe Dry.’


Toronto gets a soccer team and stadium; searches for sponsors

A new team is coming to town and along with it, a new stadium to be built on Toronto’s Exhibition grounds slated for spring 2007. Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment (MLSE) is bringing soccer to Toronto via a yet-to-be-named team under the New York-based Major League Soccer (MLS) umbrella. The Toronto team’s new home, a 20,000-seat stadium, is searching for naming rights by way of sponsorship now.


Canadian brands will get MTV six different ways

Thirsty for your MTV? You’re about to be satiated – six different ways. The MTV drought ends at 6 p.m. tonight and in anticipation of its Canadian launch, MTV unveiled a six-pronged strategy to net eyeballs across every platform it can. The ‘Six Arms of MTV’ incorporates distribution through conventional and specialty channels, mobile, video on demand (VOD), branded live events at the Masonic Temple and through MTV Overdrive, a broadband on-demand service.


One to Watch: Vision TV gets a vision; rebrands as S-VOX to reflect growing umbrella brand

Toronto-based VisionTV group has taken on a new identity as a result of its growth over the last five years. The net’s group of brands — which include digi-channel One: the Body, Mind & Spirit, the two-month-young The Christian Channel, plus new venture VisionTV International (a global sales distribution arm) in addition to VisionTV — will now operate under S-VOX. Suzanna Mandryk, VP, communications and marketing says the new name means ‘spiritual voice of the people,’ conveying the brand’s commitment to spirituality. To further drive growth and to tap into other demo groups, the net is also scheduled to launch a podcast (name to be disclosed) in mid-April.


Brands join athletes in Torino for the Olympic games

Call it national pride or call it mass audience availability, but brands are doing what they can to take advantage of what they hope will be an engaged audience. For Rene Bertrand, executive director of media sales at CBC, it’s a good thing. ‘We have 15 sponsors this year. That’s a record for us.’ Last Olympic games netted 12 sponsors, he says.

‘Everyone’s really trying to leverage their involvement,’ Bertrand says citing Bell Canada as an example of one such sponsor. Bell Canada’s piece of the sponsorship pie is all about high interactivity. Exclusive CBC/Radio Canada content will be available to Bell Mobility customers. Hourly highlights will air 18 times daily in English and 13 times in French for MobiTV subscribers.