Media Buyers' Diaries: CW Does What It Does Best, ABC Relies on Kimmel

By Courtney Thompson May 14, 2008, 5:56 PM EDT

A cell-phone shot of Maroon 5 at the CW party.

During Upfront Week, we've asked several media buyers to file reports from the various parties and presentations. Our anonymous correspondents were out on the prowl again yesterday, hitting up ESPN's morning presentation at the Nokia Theater, ABC's pared-down showcase at Lincoln Center's Avery Fisher Hall, and the CW's concert-party-presentation at the Tent at Lincoln Center. ABC Entertainment president Stephen McPherson got laughs yesterday when, at the end of of the network's run-through, he thanked the CW for hosting their after-party. (For the past several years ABC has held its post-presentation party at the tent, a spot that the CW was quick to fill this year.) Here's what the media buyers thought.

“Kelly Kapowski,” 30, is a senior media buyer in the broadcast department at MediaEdge CIA, where she has worked for nine years. She works with auto and retail clients in local markets; this is her seventh year attending the upfronts. Here's what she had to say about the CW party.

“When you start out being handed an apple martini without having to ask for it, you know it'll be a fun night. I have to admit that I had always loved going to Bryant Park for CW's luncheon, so when I realized this [year’s party] was on personal time, selfishly I took issue. But did I mention the part about the apple martini? The cocktail hour was nice; the food was a definite upgrade from the buffet of years past. I usually don't discuss bathrooms, but the trailer bathrooms were the nicest Porta-Johns I've ever been in. Maroon 5 was great—an appropriate and wonderful surprise. And the 20-plus-minute presentation was fast and direct—thankfully, as not all of us had seats. All in all, it was simple, quick, and fun. As most of the upfronts are changing design and landscape this year, I think the CW did what they do best: provide simple, mindless entertainment.”

“Rudy Huxtable,” a 28-year-old broadcast department supervisor at Optimedia International US Inc., had a busy day yesterday.

“I had a client meeting in the morning so I skipped ESPN—there are never any programming surprises at that one anyway; it's sports, sports, sports. I started the day with a lunch at Giorgione down on Spring Street with the reps from CBS. It’s a cute little Italian place that is great for a business lunch, especially for down here in the West Village.

“We headed over to the ABC presentation at Lincoln Center at 4. It was very different from last year. They kept making jokes about how they were cutting back, which was obvious because they weren’t hosting a party. There was no talent except for Jimmy Kimmel, who was hilarious. But that’s weird for ABC, because usually all their stars come out and they do a big song and dance routine. They only showed clips from a couple of new shows, mainly because the pilots aren’t ready—and they have a really solid schedule anyway, without many holes to fill. All in all it was a little over an hour.

“Afterward we just walked across the plaza into the tents for CW. The party was pretty incredible; they really went all-out for it. They had bars outside. Inside there were girls dressed in crazy outfits and green wigs passing out green-apple martinis—green is CW’s color. They had tons of passed appetizers. My favorite were the little cherry tomatoes stuffed with hummus. It was crowded and a little hot in the tents, but not unbearable. All the talent was there, casts from Gossip Girl, One Tree Hill, the new 90210 show, Top Model. They were sitting on the sides, and you could take pictures with them. Then Maroon 5 came out and everyone was shocked, because the network didn’t say anything about a performer. They said they were going to do a quick 20-minute presentation, so we thought that was what the stage was for. Then when we saw a band setting up, we thought it would be some C-list performer from One Tree Hill. People were really freaking out when Maroon 5 came out. I’m not a crazy fan, but there were definitely some people there who were. Usually CW is on Thursday in the morning, with a luncheon afterward, so this was a huge change for them—and it was for the better.

“So that started at 5:30 and we left at 8, and there were still a lot of people there at that point. We hosted a client-appreciation dinner for 30 people at Shelly’s at 8:30. We had a private downstairs room with a bar, and everyone shared salads, pizzas, pastas. I had the seared tuna entrée, which was delightful. And we had wine, too, a lot of it. Today I’m tired but I could be a lot worse. I feel chubby—all I’m doing is eating and drinking this week.”

“Alex P. Keaton,” a 28-year-old supervisor in the broadcast department at Wieden + Kennedy, swung by the ESPN presentation yesterday morning.

“I arrived at the Nokia Theater in Times Square for the first morning upfront of the week, and I was very thankful for the express check-in line, which kept things moving. The morning presentations are always a struggle to generate enthusiasm from the crowd. Lots of coffee and breakfast items were in the lobby, but the show started promptly at 9:05 so there wasn’t much time for mingling. Luckily, SportsCenter anchors Scott Van Pelt and Steve Levy brought their A games for this one. Besides a few stiff reads from a teleprompter by some execs, the show moved along well. With a set built to look like the SportsCenter studio, it was an advertising upfront-themed show, which luckily was handled well by the two savvy anchors.
“ESPN spent most of the 90-minute presentation pounding home the 'multiplatform' message while rolling out new ways to measure engagement among sports fans.  Overall it was a pretty solid morning, a huge improvement over the previous year. I’ll be missing the ABC, CW and CBS upfronts this year, but hopefully Kanye West will bring down the house at the Adult Swim party.”

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