Bravo Reality Stars Schmooze With Advertisers at Net's First Upfront in Years

By Courtney Thompson March 17, 2010, 1:37 PM EDT

A styling and photo shoot station at Bravo's upfront party

Photo: Courtesy of NBC Universal

Bravo Upfront Party
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For the first time since Bravo aired Project Greenlight in 2005, the network returned to the upfront landscape this year with its new management team and a format that differed from the norm. Eschewing a lengthy seated programming presentation, the network opted to take over Skylight with an interactive party for 600 media buyers and their advertising clients, allowing them to mix and mingle with reality show stars doing what they do best.

Shear Genius contestants, for example, provided hairdos, while Bravo’s own Andy Cohen taped interviews with guests in a replica of the Watch What Happens Live! set. Top Chef alums prepared dishes in an open kitchen, and Millionaire Matchmaker’s Patty Stanger chatted with the many female attendees about how to find love.

“First and foremost, [this event is] about selling and positioning our brand,” said Nicole Sabatini, Bravo’s vice president of strategic marketing. “The goal is that our clients walk away with the Bravo brand experience they could never get by turning on our network or stopping by our Web site. It’s a touch-and-feel experience. It’s about immersing in the brand.”

Empire Entertainment Inc.'s Suzanne Chin and Rana Strazza produced the event, which was meant to evoke Bravo’s five “passion points,” or programming themes: food, fashion, beauty, design, and pop culture. The fashion area, for instance, was inspired by an imagined closet belonging to Mariah Carey or Kimora Lee Simmons, with plush furniture and racks of expensive duds. The food station incorporated a 20- by 5-foot shiny white counter, where former Top Chef contestants such as Richard Blais and Casey Thompson tossed up just-cooked dishes.

Creative Edge supplied the bulk of the evening’s eats in inventive ways: Trays of grilled pizzas were placed on the pop room’s bookshelves and coffee tables; the beauty area’s lettuce wrap station included gelatin dressing cubes and vinaigrette sauce droppers; and the Top Chefs: Just Desserts bar had guests plucking dozens of cookies, shakes, and cupcakes out of glass jars.

While the advertising folks seemed to enjoy the food, cocktails, and stylish surroundings, it was the network’s stars—among them, the Real Housewives of Orange County, New York, and Atlanta, and Flipping Out’s Jeff Lewis—that sent them running, shrieking, and snapping photos on their iPhones. Shear Genius host Camila Alves was also present, as was her boyfriend, the most photographed man of the night, Matthew McConaughey.

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