All Posts By

Alison Yobage

The Great Halloween TV Tradition

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After a long, hot summer, we look forward to sweater weather, splurging on their favorite candy, costumes, and decorating for the Halloween season. And of course, bingeing on some good Halloween-themed TV.

According to the National Retail Federation (NRF), American consumer spending for this Halloween is forecast to reach a record $9.1B, up from $8.4 billion in 2016. Seven out of ten plan to celebrate Halloween this year by dressing up, handing out candy, and decorating our homes and offices.

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Hurricane Season: Wreaking Havoc on Land, Sea, and TV

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The unprecedented fury of Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria caused power outages, flooding, and hundreds of millions of dollars in damage. While this season’s aggressive hurricane season has broken weather-related records left and right, it’s also impacted something a little closer to our industry: television.

When Irma struck Florida as a Category 4 hurricane, it left 6 million people without power in Florida and drove others towards watching the weather news. The Weather Channel kicked into “severe mode,” broadcasting live around the clock for several days around each of the back-too-back storms. It was the only network to do so, which was reflected in its ratings. Read More

The Most Sensational, Inspirational, Muppetational Show Ever

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“The Muppet Show.” The original one, from the late 1970s and early 1980s. Only the most sensational, inspirational, celebrational, muppetational show ever. I did not come up with that myself. Those are lyrics from the opening credits of the show.

The original “Muppet Show” premiered in September 1976 in the UK. Creator Jim Henson took his idea to the US TV networks: ABC, CBS, and NBC. US network executives unanimously praised his work, but were not convinced a puppet show could pull ratings in prime time. Henson created two pilots, which aired on ABC. Neither brought in good ratings, so ABC passed on the series. Read More

The 100th Anniversary of Fluff

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Archibald Query. You may not know his name, but if you have spent much time in New England, there is a very good chance you know a product he sold for a few short years leading up to World War I.

One hundred years ago, beginning in 1917, he cooked batches of melted marshmallows at home and sold them door-to-door in his neighborhood in Somerville, MA. Sadly, a World War I sugar shortage ended his enterprise. In 1920, Query sold his recipe to Massachusetts-based candymakers H. Allen Durkee and Fred Mower, for $500. Read More

I Want My MTV!

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Just after midnight on August 1, 1981, the brand new Music Television Network came on the air, with a bang. Its opening moments consisted of footage of a rocket launching and an announcer declaring “Ladies and Gentlemen, rock and roll!” A guitar riff played with an image of an American astronaut planting an MTV flag on the moon.

The video that followed was “Video Killed the Radio Star” by the English band the Buggles. About 80 videos comprised the first week’s schedule, which was almost the totality of music videos in existence at the time. It turns out that video did just the opposite of killing the radio star. Read More

Remember When Amazon Just Sold Books?

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When Amazon officially opened for business on July 16, 1995, the only thing they offered were books. Within just one month, Amazon had shipped books to all 50 US states and to 45 countries. Bezos’ aim and motto was to “get big fast,” and as we know the company is now an ecommerce mega-mall, selling so much more than books.

As we rely increasingly on the giant company for our personal shopping as well as business needs, it’s hard to remember a time just about twenty years ago when Amazon sold only one product: books. Because today, “There’s virtually nothing left that they haven’t touched,” said Kelly O’Keefe, professor at the Virginia Commonwealth University Brandcenter. Read More

Cool Whip is Still Cool After 50 Years

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Cool Whip. It puts the exclamation mark on apple pie, strawberry shortcake, ice cream, and so many other summer desserts. It keeps a long time in the refrigerator, can serve as an ice cream substitute, and helps make cakes and frozen pies look airy.

Cool Whip went from new product to top seller quickly. In just two years, it was the biggest seller and most profitable product in the Birds Eye portfolio of General Foods. (For those interested in corporate family trees, General Foods later merged with Kraft/Philip Morris, then became part of Altria until Kraft was spun off from Altria in 2006. Ten years later, Kraft merged with Heinz, forming KraftHeinz.) Read More

Hot Town, Summer in the City

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With temperatures in the 90s over the last few days, ice cream has been on my mind and no doubt on the minds of others. I’ve also been thinking about what I would do for a Klondike bar.

The original Klondike bar was created in 1922, on a small dairy farm in Mansfield, OH. There, the Isaly family, immigrants from Switzerland, made the bars by dipping squares of ice cream into pans of their beloved, melted Swiss chocolate. The bar’s genesis came from an attempt to make an ice cream product specifically for adults. They were made only in Islay stores, so their availability and distribution was limited. Read More

Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda, and Samantha: HBO’s Wonder Women

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“Sex and the City,” the groundbreaking HBO series that ran for six seasons and still remains in syndication today, premiered this week in 1998.

Set and filmed in NYC, the series chronicled the lives, trials, and triumphs of friends Carrie, Charlotte, Miranda, and Samantha – four single, 30-something professional women. The series’ production process differed dramatically from network norms, and SATC (as nicknamed by fans), defied expectations about both the popularity and commercial viability of a series produced by and for a subscription cable network. Read More

Let’s Be Upfront

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A marketer identifies the features and benefits of their product that are deemed important to a select group of target customers. The marketer hones in on the customer’s TV viewing habits, and perhaps also pinpoints some of the places they are likely to walk past in a typical day. This has been going on for years, indeed more than half a century. Only fairly recently though has the marketer been a television network and the target customer an ad buyer. This is Upfront Week.

Upfront Week is a business tradition unique to advertising sales, specifically TV ad sales, that has evolved since its start in the 1960s. In the late 1950s, new series premiered on broadcast networks at various times across the year and upfront negotiations were aligned to the studio’s development cycle. According to Ad Week, at the time, upfronts began in February after Washington’s Birthday and finished within a few weeks.

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