Upfronts: Day Two – ABC, CW

In NYC for this week's upfronts, Helena Shelton, MediaCom's EVP/director of trading, is reporting back to MiC. Her take on the second day? With only a measly two new shows, it might have behooved ABC to have been a tad more humble. But it was a whole other story at the CW.

Miscalculating NY traffic, we got to the ABC upfront just ahead of Jack Myers and ended up sitting in the very top row of Lincoln Centre. Beside us was a young PHD buyer in a black suit at his very first upfront. The ABC upfront was traditional: the lights went off and the talking began.

Jimmy Kimmel got the show going, poking fun at the other networks, especially NBC. But the jokes about ABC’s upfront being BYOB never stopped. After that, they talked and talked and talked. Then the media charts went up, and they talked some more. They talked about Ad Lab, engagement, C3 ratings, DVRs, HD, connectivity, the consumer, digital and their #1 ranking and performance. The crowd got fidgety, and the young buyer beside me began to play with his cellphone and rub his eyes.

Finally, they spoke about new shows, saying they have 17 in development. Among them are Life on Mars, about a cop who ends up back in the ’70s, and Opportunity Knocks, a new reality show from Ashton Kutcher, which got zero response from the crowd. The Goode Family, an animated series from the creator of King of the Hill, got a few chuckles. In the Motherhood got real laughs, and the young buyer beside me put his cellphone away. The biggest crowd pleaser was a new summer reality show, Wipeout. As we laughed and groaned, the young buyer was back and awake.

The whole event lasted one hour. A senior NY ad exec captured the general feeling by saying, ‘ABC was surprising. They should have been more humble. It seems they are essentially taking the fall off. Only two new shows and one is a game show? Not exactly a recipe for success.’

Then came the CW presentation, held in a tent at the same location. Jack Myers was already at the bar when we got there. If advertising is all about selling the brand, these guys won. CW sold their brand and left no doubt that they understand who their audience is.

This was a party. The colour was green, and apple martinis were handed out by girls all in green, including their hair [see photo]. The party got started with the band Maroon 5. The presentation was very hard to hear, but the crowd loved it all. CW said they had the ’3 Ds’: the Demographic – young women; the Desirable shows; and Destination. When they announced a spin-off of 90210, the crowd went nuts. Another projected hit, judging by the crowd’s response, was Surviving the Filthy Rich, a new show along the lines of Gossip Girl.

Then we were off. Big plans with some fellow Canadians and debate about what we just saw. Tomorrow it’s CBS at Carnegie Hall.

Helena Shelton is EVP/director of trading at Toronto-based MediaCom.