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ABC Campaign Gives Washed-Up Soaps New Image
Topic Started: Jul 21 2008, 12:07 PM (1,171 Views)
ljacks13
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http://adage.com/mediaworks/article?article_id=129768

ABC Campaign Gives Washed-Up Soaps New Image
Glams Up Daytime Dramas in Effort to Replenish Longtime Audience
By Brian Steinberg

Published: July 21, 2008

NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- O.J. Simpson killed the soap opera.

The soaps' audience has slipped since the daytime telecasts of his infamous trial in the mid-1990s, said Shari Cohen, president and co-executive director of national broadcast at WPP Group's MindShare. "They sort of never rebounded from that ... and obviously the audience base has evolved," she said. "They've got a lot going on in their lives and a lot of opportunity to find content in a lot of places."

'Watch ... or get whacked': Unlikely soap supporters in the promotion include actress Elizabeth Berkley, Spice Girl Mel B and Vincent Pastore of 'The Sopranos.'
Photo Credit: Ron Tom


Indeed. "All My Children," "One Life To Live" and "General Hospital" have run on ABC since 1970, 1968 and 1963, respectively. That's why the Walt Disney network is sexing up the soaps with a promotion geared to get Millennials to watch.

The effort will portray the shows as having more of the glitz, dalliances and delightful tension viewers expect in prime-time dramas. In the spots, which will appear on cable, in celebrity-oriented magazines and websites, and, of course, on ABC and SoapNet, actress Elizabeth Berkley spotlights the strong women of "One Life to Live," fashion designer Randolph Duke points to the style of "All My Children" and country- music singer Billy Currington calls attention to the romance on "General Hospital." Other well-known faces that are part of the effort include Spice Girl Mel B and "Sopranos" actor Vincent Pastore. These people traditionally have very little to do with soap operas, but that's part of the plan: surprising would-be viewers and getting them to tune in.

Hand-me-downs
"People really just assumed that people knew what a soap was and why they should watch, and the habit of watching a soap would be passed down from mother to daughter," said Brian Frons, president-daytime, Disney-ABC Television Group. "We know from our research that that's just not true any more."

ABC's flashy youth appeal marks the latest effort by the big broadcast networks to light a fire under the venerable soap opera (CBS recently started a promotional effort as well). Despite dwindling audiences, advertisers still like these ol' reliables, because they attract die-hards -- often women in charge of household budgets -- who come back again and again to catch up on the latest plot twists, romances and scandals.

ABC's gambit could have a payoff. Walgreen Co. intends to "shift some of our assets" to the Disney network, said Christine Kubisztal, the company's manager-media strategy and services, because of its effort to capture the attention of younger consumers. Soap fans are valuable, she said, but executives "know we need to try to get in front of a younger viewer."

Adam Rockmore, senior VP-marketing, ABC Daytime and Disney-operated SoapNet, agrees.

'Get them early'
"We want to get them early, because then you can get them for the rest of their lives."

More than 3.7 million people watched "All My Children" on a live or same-day basis through July 6 of 2003, according to Nielsen. Through July 6 of this year, about 2.6 million people watched.

Ad sales are also off. In 2003, advertisers spent about $967.9 million on the eight big network soaps. In 2007, they spent about $870.6 million, according to TNS Media Intelligence.

While some of the programs, such as "The Young and the Restless" have remained relatively stable, NBC's "Days of Our Lives" -- the only soap the network runs -- has seen ad dollars tumble to about $97.5 million in 2007 from nearly $130 million in 2003

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Rakesh198
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thank you for posting. :rockon:

Quote:
 
NBC's "Days of Our Lives" -- the only soap the network runs -- has seen ad dollars tumble to about $97.5 million in 2007 from nearly $130 million in 2003


Can someone please explain this to me? I'm kinda confuse...
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jcar03
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I think it means that amount of money that advertisers pay to advertise during the show it down for a entire year. In 2003 advertisers payed a total of $130 mil and last year the total was $97.5 mil.
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jcar03
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The ad campaign sounds stupid and doesn't make me want to tune in. None of the people in the ads are on a soap or to my knowledge have ever been.
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Rakesh198
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jcar03
Jul 21 2008, 12:28 PM
I think it means that amount of money that advertisers pay to advertise during the show it down for a entire year. In 2003 advertisers payed a total of $130 mil and last year the total was $97.5 mil.
Oh. No wonder Corday is going bald.

Thanks!! :)
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Deleted User
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You know, I hate that murdering scumbag as much as the next guy, but I'm so sick of the decline of soap ratings being blamed on The Trial. GMFAB please.
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King
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A soap exec himself told me OJ excuse is BULLSHIT.
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jcar03
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I like that ABC has to revolve their ad campaign around the mob as well.
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jcar03
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Now Y&R's latest video promo actually makes me want to tune in and I haven't cared about Y&R in almost a year.
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Tammy
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The OJ excuse might be bullshit... but man did that piss me off lmao. I was really into OLTL at the time and that fucking trial intrupted it every single DAY!
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PhoenixRising05
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GET EM STEPH!!

The networks use the OJ excuse as a crutch. Yes, it didn't help matters but it's a minor issue at best in the broad scheme of things. Plus, in 1997, many soaps rebounded. I recall a SOD cover focusing on AMC, Days, and I think it was GL and how their ratings had surged. Sure, it went downhill from there but the writing and quality is more to blame for that. Days did very well in the 90's and saw some of it's strongest numbers after the OJ trial.

The networks will never stop using that excuse, just like they will use the "demographics have changed" and "more women aren't home during the day" excuses. While those are true and a little more justified, if they didn't spend more then a decade feeding fans events and action instead of the quality, character-driven writing that made soaps great, then the soaps may still be ok and we wouldn't see the ratings system being driven by stunts and gimmicks. A ratings decline may have still happened but maybe not like this.
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speedbump210


Quote:
 
"People really just assumed that people knew what a soap was and why they should watch, and the habit of watching a soap would be passed down from mother to daughter," said Brian Frons, president-daytime, Disney-ABC Television Group. "We know from our research that that's just not true any more."



That's because you and the rest of those youth-obsessed Madison Avenue drones have kowtowed to the sacred illusion of the 18-49 demographic for the last decade! The sad truth no one in television wants to admit is that while the idea of grouping together people based on age, gender, race, etc. is easy to do, it leads those in charge to some dangerous conclusions.

Namely, 1) that all people of a certain group enjoy watching the same thing or the same characters, 2) that people can only relate to characters found in the same demographic, 3) that younger generations are better because they have more income, despite the fact that every dollar they accumulate usually comes from mommy and daddy and the "Boomer" generation is the richest in history, and 4) that younger demographics are better and should be catered to instead of trying to put out a multi-generational/racial show to try to appeal to a broader group of people. When you obsessed over youth, you began to chip away at the older demos watching the show. And these people are the last ones to leave their stories and surely the last to ever come back. Therefore, when you eliminate the older generation, the younger generation has no exposure from family members. And we can take a look at the demos at how many of them are finding the show on their own. Answer: Not many.

Because when you attempt to cater to one particular group, you find out inevitably that there are very few of the ones you really want and many more of the ones you are letting slip through your fingers because of some ageist/racist/gender discriminatory prejudices. Take a look at our demos soap execs. They aren't good no matter how sexed up and youth obsessed you've gotten. Obviously, you can catch more fish with a bigger net.

Put on a good show dammit! Is it truly that difficult? Then WAIT and let the audience come.
Edited by speedbump210, Jul 22 2008, 12:37 AM.
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Gray Bunny
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PhoenixRising05
Jul 22 2008, 12:09 AM
The networks use the OJ excuse as a crutch. Yes, it didn't help matters but it's a minor issue at best in the broad scheme of things. Plus, in 1997, many soaps rebounded. I recall a SOD cover focusing on AMC, Days, and I think it was GL and how their ratings had surged. Sure, it went downhill from there but the writing and quality is more to blame for that. Days did very well in the 90's and saw some of it's strongest numbers after the OJ trial.

The networks will never stop using that excuse, just like they will use the "demographics have changed" and "more women aren't home during the day" excuses. While those are true and a little more justified, if they didn't spend more then a decade feeding fans events and action instead of the quality, character-driven writing that made soaps great, then the soaps may still be ok and we wouldn't see the ratings system being driven by stunts and gimmicks. A ratings decline may have still happened but maybe not like this.
I have that magazine from back in July 1997 where it had "Soaps Bounce Back!" on the cover with DAYS, AMC, and GL on the cover. The thing is, AMC and GL merely bounced back from a huge slump they suffered the past year. They rebounded, but soon went back to their previous numbers. AMC had fallen to an "anemic" (as SOD called it) 4.4 rating, but climbed up to a 5.0/5.1 during the Erica baby story. GL had a disastrous 1996, falling to a low of 3.3, but slowly climbed back up in '97 with a nice jump to 4.6 during the height of the Reva/Annie trial.

With 1997 seeming to be the last time soaps were *hot*, it should be noted the decline that began after the OJ trial was still going steadily down. Only GL managed to gain viewers during the course of 1997, according to TV Guide's year in review.

I still maintain that the OJ trial brought on the beginning to the ratings decline. The majority of the soaps lost HUGE numbers between the 1993-1994 to 1994-1995 seasons. Years ago, I bought a hefty bunch of old Soap Opera Weekly magazines from the early & mid-90's, and it's interesting to read about the panic in the industry during and after the OJ trial. That's when the networks and execs were scrambling to maintain the audience that was eroding so quickly during the trial. And that's when the writing started to get sloppier, storylines got wackier, and there was a revolving door of headwriters and EP's at many shows.
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IMissAremid
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After all... tomorrow is another day!

The OJ trial wasn't why soap ratings declined IMO. It had to do with a combination of more and more women in the workforce (yeah women had been working a lot since the 60s, but the 90s is when the stay at home mothers of Baby Boomers really started dying off in large numbers) and the rise of cable and Internet popularity as another option for people home during the day to occupy their time.
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Gray Bunny
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IMissAremid
Jul 22 2008, 01:09 AM
The OJ trial wasn't why soap ratings declined IMO. It had to do with a combination of more and more women in the workforce (yeah women had been working a lot since the 60s, but the 90s is when the stay at home mothers of Baby Boomers really started dying off in large numbers) and the rise of cable and Internet popularity as another option for people home during the day to occupy their time.
I totally agree with that too, but the OJ trial really kicked the downward trend into high gear. But it's not surprising to hear that these days Law & Order reruns on cable get better ratings than soaps. It's just a whole different atmosphere these days. And what's a sweeter deal for the networks? Paying for reruns that get high numbers or original programming with a huge overpaid cast, writers, directors, crew, etc? . . . And for ratings that are the same or worse than the reruns?
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Deleted User
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I think it's a great idea. SO many people love Mel B (if only for the gossip rag factor) and Billy Currington (if only for the beef factor). It'll get their attentions, definitely.

why NOT extol the virtues of something that is aimed SOLELY to boost the soap opera genre? I applaud Frons for this measure, and for supporting daytime.
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Mason
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LMAO! Since when has Frons been supporting daytime? All I've seen is him do is do his damndest to obliterate it.
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Getting big stars to promote, of all things, soaps?! Hmm, that, I'd call, supporting daytime. But that's just me...
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Dayzfan
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Its a combination of things that are killing soaps.Not only more women in the workforce,but more viewing options with cable/sat tv
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darraholic
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The OJ excuse is annoying. Maybe if they hired fresh talented writers instead of recycling hack writers the soaps would be in a better position.
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