Cable TV vet Marc Juris kicked off Variety‘s TV Summit on Wednesday with a lighthearted look at lessons he’s learned about branding, programming and creative brainstorming during his 25-plus years in television.
“I haven’t felt such pressure since my Bar Mitzvah,” Juris joked of being asked to give the keynote presentation. “I read Variety as a kid dreaming of one day being a big TV executive.”
In his remarks to the crowd at Century City’s Intercontinental Hotel, We TV prexy-g.m. Juris drew on his past experiences with brand makeovers at CourTV, TruTV, AMC and Fuse while making admittedly shameless plugs for WE’s newly launched rebranding effort.
“Nothing screws people up more than thinking success means you’re smart and invincible,” the exec remarked, noting that changes in the world and the media cannot be predicted, though we can prepare for them. Juris advised the room to pay attention to trends and make an effort to “keep playing,” at a time when it seems there is too much content to handle and new concepts stand as a disruption to remaining relevant.
When saddled with that dilemma, Juris shared that the first idea at the table had been to change the name of WE tv entirely. “People still think of us as Women’s Entertainment,” he commented on the name’s context. “[It] not only feels outdated, but also alienates 150 million potential viewers.” Juris went on to present a hilarious list of poorly-thought-out business names before explaining that the first idea isn’t necessarily the right one.
The options all felt like “’we’ve seen it before.’ Which, incidentally, also describes the new season of ’24,’” he quipped.
“We means ‘us.’ It means ‘you and me,’” Juris said. “It’s this collective community of “us” that ultimately powers the web and turns the word “we” from a preposition into a promise.”
While poking fun Juris delivered a hopeful outlook for the business as technology and viewing habits continue to evolve. The bottom line, according to Juris’ list of secrets: “Great stories make great shows, and great shows build great brands.”
“The secret to success is not looking at things for what they are; it’s looking at them for what they can be,” he said.