Brand Future of TV

Why global marketers should have a seat at the Upfronts

May 23, 2022 | 5 min read

The US Upfronts 2022 concluded on Friday after a week of announcements, deals and parties on New York’s Madison Avenue. Zach Chapman, senior vice-president of global partnerships at NBCUniversal, says it’s time for the event to fully open up to the global market.

More than ever before, brands feel the need to think global and act local – and are waiting for the media and advertising industry to meet them, and their audiences, where they are. But as the industry figures out cross platform, few are looking across continents.

Picture of conference audience

New York saw the return of Madison Avenue’s biggest party this past week – the Upfronts

Indeed, while New York may have seen the return of Madison Avenue’s biggest party this past week, for the global market, this year’s Upfronts was more a welcome sight than a welcome back.

That’s because there isn’t really an international equivalent to the Upfronts. For many global marketers, buying and selling doesn’t kick off with any one event but is a year-round endeavor. As a global company, NBCUniversal regularly engages with agencies and clients in Europe and Asia. The process works – and in many ways is a closer approximation to the year-round nature of TV production (and consumption) than the American tradition our industry has come to know and love. That is to say, this kind of business model isn’t going anywhere.

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What is changing, however, is the competition for safe, scaled audiences – and the chance to be associated with the kind of premium, culture-defining content that builds fandoms and drives results.

The ability to reliably create impact has never been more important. With economic headwinds presenting new challenges for consumers and clients in every industry, marketers need partners that can deliver true connection with audiences – rather than bigger headaches and more price hikes – and innovative solutions, not just plans to shove new ads on to platforms where consumers never asked for them.

That’s why this Global Upfront couldn’t be more important, or come at a better time.

Since launching that NBCUniversal Global offering in 2020, this was the first time we’ve been able to gather together as one advertising community, showcase upcoming content and drive excitement for marketers not just in the United States, but around the world. After all, where else can you fit on one stage previews of global sporting events such as the World Cup and a showcase of reality favourites including the Real Housewives, international blockbusters such as Jurassic World and breakthrough hits including Bel Air?

But it’s not just content that’s exciting marketers and audiences. It combines with the rise of new technologies and programmatic solutions, new and more accurate means of measurement, and new ways for businesses of all sizes to access premium streaming and movies, to create an audience and advertising market for global content and culture that is larger than ever – and growing. There’s also more and better data available to global marketers than ever before, as first-party data is no longer the exclusive domain of social platforms.

Rounding out the content-technology one-two punch is an emphasis on global partnership that truly creates a global media ecosystem: from partnerships with international tech giants that benefit both audiences and advertisers to collaborations with advertisers such as Europe’s RTL AdConnect, which will create even more opportunities for marketers across the US, Europe and Asia. Plus, there are the partnership opportunities that reach all-new audiences, in all-new ways: for example, our recent partnership with Anzu, which will help clients access the millions of fans who jump between streaming and gaming.

As we saw this week, little can match the magic of the Upfront stage. But just as exciting as the glitz and glamor are the new opportunities we’re creating to set up brands on the global stage.

After all, the party may start in New York, but it hardly ends there.

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