A&E's Upfront Flaunts Network Growth With Larger Venue, Florence & the Machine Performance

By Anna Sekula May 14, 2012, 6:18 PM EDT

Shortly after the the bars and buffets opened, offering everything from salads and sushi to pasta and steak, Florence & the Machine performed.

Photo: Jason Kempin/Getty Images for A&E Networks

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At its upfront last year, A&E Television Networks launched a corporate rebranding initiative with a short, celebratory presentation at the IAC Building. This year's effort seemed to communicate even more as the television brand brought 700 buyers, execs, and on-air talent to the larger, more formal space of the Tent at Lincoln Center. Keen to flaunt the ratings success of its channels—including History and A&E—as well as the revised color scheme, logo, and tagline for Lifetime, the network's Wednesday-night affair presented a sophisticated side to A&E, while still maintaining the relaxed tone and lounge setting of the 2011 event. There was even a performance by Florence & the Machine, a band that only just last year served as the headliner for the Met Ball.

“The message we were communicating to the advertising community was the shear size and scope of our company and our brands,” said Lisa Cowles, director of events for A&E Television Networks. “A&E Networks is the fourth-largest media company in the delivery of adults. Lincoln Center is one of the cultural cornerstones of the U.S. It felt like the right venue.”

Planned and executed by A&E's own production group and Event Designs New York, the function saw a mostly white design scheme with hints of the logo colors—blue, black, orange, and pink—employed in elements like the chandeliers, room dividers, and low-slung cocktail tables.

The larger venue also allowed the company to carve out separate sections for the presentation and the reception that preceded it. While illuminated bars marked the cocktail space, a mix of seating arrangements was designed to strike a more casual tone and encourage networking in the presentation section. Small rounds covered with turquoise linens and surrounded by clear polycarbonate chairs stood in the front and back, white ottomans configured into the plus-shaped logo of the company sat at the sides, and the middle of the space held groupings of molded white chairs around a mirror-topped tables.

Following speeches by four different executives, the media company opened up the entire space for the festivities, with a myriad of dishes supplied by Restaurant Associates and a performance on stage by Florence Welch and her band that had the suit-and-tie crowd pulling out their smartphones to snap photos.

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