NBC’s turn for an extreme makeover

Net looks to Naked for brand repositioning

As it continues to struggle in the ratings, NBC is pursuing a brand makeover.

The Peacock last month hired global marketing firm Naked Communications to reposition the network’s once-storied brand.

Once home to “Must See TV” in the 1990s, and more recently an upscale “Quality Shows” lineup that boasted shows like “The West Wing,” NBC insiders admit their network’s brand has recently become more muddled.

NBC has over the past two years dabbled in male-oriented mythology shows, blue-sky series, critical darlings, sudsers and more, all in the hopes of landing on a more cohesive strategy. That’s led to a hodge-podge schedule that, in just one two-hour period on Fridays, leaps from “Howie Do It” to “Friday Night Lights.”

Now, with the Peacock moving Jay Leno into the 10 p.m. slot next fall, NBC execs said it’s even more important over the next few months to determine how to position the network.

Is it a late night comedy brand, a la Leno/O’Brien/Fallon/SNL? A single-camera comedy brand in the vein of “The Office” and “30 Rock”? A young male-oriented brand, thanks to NFL Sunday Night Football, “Chuck” and “Heroes”? Or should quality drama — “Life,” “Friday Night Lights” — be its bread and butter?

By bringing in an outside consultant, NBC execs hope to spark a new, unified take on what the network should be known for.

“We’re thinking about how we market the brand, how we present ourselves to the advertising community at upfront and how we present ourselves to the consumer,” said Adam Stotsky, who joined NBC in July as president of entertainment marketing. “Naked is working with us to sharpen our image, (as we) look for a fresh perspective on how we go to market.”

NBC’s brand dilemma is also a reminder of the ever-swinging primetime pendulum. In its “Must See” days, the Peacock’s brand was pretty clear, while ABC was all over the map. These days, the Alphabet web has a handle on its brand — it’s the home of female-driven series like “Grey’s Anatomy” and “The Bachelor” — while CBS (crime drama and broad comedy) and Fox (“American Idol” and male-driven skeins) are also easy to identify.

The Peacock’s branding revamp is the brainchild of Stotsky, who joined NBC from sister cabler Sci-Fi, where he was exec VP for global brand strategy and market development.

Stotsky pitched NBC Entertainment/Universal Media Studios co-chairs Ben Silverman and Marc Graboff on the idea, and is working closely with new primetime entertainment topper Angela Bromstad and alternative chief Paul Telegdy as Naked conducts the branding exercise.

“There’s an inextricable link between marketing and programming,” Stotsky said. “These two things define the brand. We’re all aligned against the same goals.”

The findings from NBC’s brand initiative will hopefully help the net determine its series orders for next fall, the exec said — and in turn give Stotsky’s team a much more consistent Peacock to promote.

Based in London but with offices in New York, Naked was founded in 2000. Since coming to the U.S. in 2006, its clients have included Coca-Cola, Johnson & Johnson and Nokia.

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