Studio taps familiar faces for TV buyer's event

NBC Universal carried through on its promise Monday to give media buyers a very different kind of upfront.

The “NBC Universal Experience” event at the Peacock’s 30 Rock HQ featured TV monitors, flashy graphic-laden displays and NBC U talent, all pushing the entire corporate message to advertisers.

Partygoers entered the event via 30 Rockefeller Plaza, and were led through a maze of booths and exhibits.

“It was like walking through IKEA,” one buyer said.

The event featured “American Gladiator” stars battling in a mini-ring, “Top Chef” contestants cooking their winning creations, and KITT, the souped-up car from NBC’s “Knight Rider” revival. It was even a political three-ring circus in parts, with Chris Matthews hosting a seg of MSNBC’s “Hardball” in the open air as well.

Then came future “Tonight Show” host Conan O’Brien, who poked fun at the company.

“To give you the true NBC Universal experience tonight, half of you will be let go,” O’Brien told the crowd.

As for NBC’s big pronouncement that it has shifted to a 52-week programming sked, O’Brien said the network did so “because we’re tired of coming in fourth only 36 weeks a year.”

For Lauren Zalaznick, Bravo and Oxygen topper who was promoted last week to prexy of NBC U’s Women and Lifestyle Networks unit, event was an opportunity to emphasize her channels’ marketing opportunities, she said.

“I’m in a great place. I get the mass of NBC U but the strategic slice and delivery of cable’s targeted reach,” she enthused. “It’s about drilling to advertisers that we’re a whole, huge company.”

NBC Entertainment/Universal Media Studios co-chair Ben Silverman said he believed the event hammered the point that NBC U provides breadth and depth to advertisers.

“We do touch 9 out of 10 people everyday,” he said. “I think it’s pretty impressive.”

NBC used “Heroes” as an example, noting that the show grabs 14.6 million viewers on the network, but 19.6 million when mobile, VOD, downloads, streaming and cable is factored in.

A gloomy, rainy day in Manhattan forced NBC to erect a tent over the afterparty, but O’Brien took advantage to tweak NBC’s growing stable of international formats in primetime.

“I apologize for the horrible weather tonight, but it’s just something else that NBC imported from Britain,” he said.

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