Bravo Puts Digital Efforts, Show Stars Centerstage at Upfront

By Anna Sekula April 13, 2012, 6:09 PM EDT

The centerpiece of the digital section was a mosaic of computers, TV screens, iPhones, and iPads that was mounted to a wall and highlighted with a speech-bubble-shaped illuminated frame.

Photo: Courtesy of MB Productions

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Last year Bravo Media dubbed its upfront “Breakthrough With Bravo” and sought to illustrate that sentiment with an unconventional presentation that saw three simultaneous events in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, as well as the integration of a Watch What Happens Live telecast. This year, the affair was no less ambitious, highlighting the brand's new digital focus with a “Powered by Bravo” tagline and various technological elements.

Held last Wednesday, April 4, at Center548, the event was produced by Empire Entertainment, the same company the NBC Universal property tapped for its 2010 and 2011 upfronts. The outing also had Andy Cohen, the cable network's executive vice president of original programming and development, host a special Watch What Happens Live All-Star Party show, which aired later that night.

Starting with the way guests entered the gathering, Bravo looked to emphasize its commitment to multimedia platforms. It also focused on the other five areas of the brand: food, fashion, beauty, design, and pop culture. The elevator, which took attendees from the ground-floor entrance to the third-floor reception, was embellished with a neon chandelier and LED lighting effects, and included a voice-of-God welcome message from Bravo's on-air announcer, Rick Gomez.

In the main space, more lighting, sound effects, and other visual components pointed to the motif. Each of what the network calls its “passion points” was designated a specific color, which was then used to mark decorative elements like individual lounge areas. For instance, orange highlighted Bravo's culinary shows and talent, the hue accenting the carpet, lampshade, and pillows of one lounge as well as the night's buffet stations. The color-coded design even extended to the oversize portraits that covered one wall, with stars like beauty personality Tabatha Coffey in blue, fashion stylist Rachel Zoe in purple, and chef Roblé Ali in orange.

A separate section of the reception space showcased the brand's digital efforts. Dubbed “Digital World,” the area was dominated by an eye-catching mosaic of electronic products—TV screens, laptops, iPhones, and iPads—that displayed content from the Bravo Web series Last Chance Kitchen, as well as sneak peeks at new offerings like the Connected TV app and social media initiative “The Real Housewives: The Game.” There was also a cell phone charging station and a station that printed Instagram photos that were posted with the hashtag #PoweredbyBravo.

However, the most visually oriented detail of the event was the three-dimensional backdrop for the short presentation. Speech-bubble-shaped pieces in different sizes peppered the all-white structure, which functioned as a projection surface. Working with French digital animation company Super Bien, Bravo mapped video projections onto the shapes and synced the graphics with music, creating a striking cinematic effect that preceded remarks from the network's president, Frances Berwick, and vice president of ad sales, Barbara Bekkeddahl.

Following the presentation, guests headed to the second floor, where the stage was set for the taping of Cohen's Watch What Happens Live All-Star Party. Banquet-style seating in the front held stars from Bravo series, some of which joined the host onstage, while a smattering of highboys and cocktail stools at the rear gave the more restless attendees room to move around.

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