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The life of a promo executive.

Organizing a distributor's participation in a trade show like NATPE is a 12-month job.

Once a promotion executive has been through his/her first NATPE Conference, he or she joins the ranks of his fellow executives in a way not unlike that of fraternity hazing, where the term "no pain, no gain" truly has meaning.

But once he or she has familiarized himself/herself with the experience, the never ending challenges of putting on this mother of all trade shows" are as stimulating and rewarding as any in the business. The key is not only in the planning, but in learning to roll with the unexpected punches as they come.

Last January, Genesis Entertainment celebrated its 10th anniversary and was determined to reinforce every message it sent out through advertising and publicity with a simple "Celebrate with us" slogan. The significance of this event in relationship to the real task at hand (selling shows), though, ultimately had little impact on the final sales statistics. It is hard to say, however, that a corporate campaign such as this had little effect overall. The image of stability and maturity which this anniversary enforced is important to a mid-sized distributor like Genesis.

The biggest challenge everyone faces is drawing traffic to the booths. Though the sales staff booked appointments with clients weeks ahead, everyone must contribute to filling the lobby with qualified station program buyers We do this in a number of ways...primarily advertising, atmosphere and contests.

Advertising

For years Genesis has advertised on the shuttle buses which carry participants their hotels to the convention center.

We have also been big believers in the trade magazine show dailies, which are slipped under hotel doors early in the morning. Relative to the cost of signage in the hall and ads in the weekly publications which may be lost, The TV Executive, Extra Extra, and other dailies are effective tools (Electronic Media and Broadcasting are so thick during the weeks prior to NATPE that an advertiser runs the risk of seeing his ad run on page 150!).

Atmosphere

We try to make the booth environment as warm as possible for our clients Choosing a menu sounds simple, but pleasing a dozen members of the senior sales team is never entirely possible.

This year a grand piano was brought in to entertain guests, together with three cocktail hostesses and a fully stocked bar.

Contests

"Win a trip to Australia" was all the sign needed to say.

It was promoting our new half-hour dramatic strip Paradise Beach which is being shot on location on the Gold Coast of Australia, and we'd be flying a lucky station exec and his or her guest to see the show filmed in person.

For Biker Mice From Mars, a $300 leather bomber jacket went to the client whose card was drawn from a bowl on Thursday evening.

The toughest part of running a contest is not promoting it, but trying to tell your sales staff that the winner will be chosen at random when every staffer begs to see his most important client awarded the prize.

Controversy

The biggest brouhaha of the conference seemed to be about the NATPE badges, which for the first time were on lanyards sponsored by Saban. Genesis sponsored the backs of the badges, a practice which had been done previously at MIP-TV and MIPCOM.

Whereas every piece of property in and around the convention was up for sale to the highest bidder, suddenly the badges became sacred and we faced a firestorm of protest from the other distributors.

At a meeting of distributors on the final day of the conference, Genesis' CEO Gary Gannaway eloquently defended the use of the reverse side for advertising, and the fate of future advertising as such rests with the NATPE Conference Committee.

While all of the wailing was done for the benefit of the press, privately a number of our counterparts from the other distributors congratulated us for pulling, off what was an advertising coup.

Well, we're already planning for Miami in 1994 and trying to think of things which will once again let us stand out from the competition. While we don't have the clout of a Warner Brothers or Paramount, we do operate by a few basic tenets which seem to work well for us: 1) Spend money wisely, choosing only those available advertising opportunities which will have significant impact, and 2) Be creative, and don't be afraid of trying something new, as long as it's done with class.
COPYRIGHT 1993 TV Trade Media, Inc.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:television programming promotion
Author:Friedman, Douglas
Publication:Video Age International
Date:Apr 1, 1993
Words:752
Previous Article:Miami or bust: NATPE '94.
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