Marketers Are Ditching Influencers For TV Talent Says NBCUniversal Ad Boss

Maggy Chan tells us how the entertainment giant has seen an increase in requests to use its talent and IP as brands look for “safer” environments.

The managing director and executive vice-president of global advertising and partnerships at NBCUniversal, Maggy Chan, says that high-profile instances of brand/influencer collaborations going wrong are having a lasting impact, with advertisers increasingly looking to work with NBCUniversal TV talent instead.

“We see sometimes with broader influencer trends that some things are less taken care of from a reputational perspective, and that’s not us. So we’re trying to be the alternative to the social players by giving brand safety and a premium feel.”

Previously, says Chan, when advertisers wanted a global campaign, they’d go straight to social platforms. “They give you that scale and that simplicity, that sort of turnkey approach,” she says. “But the risk that you have is against what content is the message going to be shown against – that brand safety is not always there.”

Dropping today (September 7) is an example of NBCU’s IP-led strategy in play. It has partnered with Israeli gaming startup Candivore to run a series of ads featuring talent from the broadcaster’s hit shows. To promote the launch of the mobile game Match Masters in the US, Candivore has selected talent from The Real Housewives on NBCU, a Top Chef VIP presenter from Telemundo and the former pro wrestler and Barmageddon host Nikki Garcia.

“You know these people, you know where they come from and you know the environment they’re in,” says Chan. ”They’re not just people who produce content on YouTube – which I’m not dissing, it has its place, but were focused on high quality and premium. That is why people come to us – they feel safer than going to an influencer.”

Chan adds that, generally, there is better brand recall and engagement when associated with premium IP compared with user-generated content. And the guarantee of safety isn’t just for the brand and the network, explains Chan. “It’s a bit of insurance for the talent as well. They know we’re not going to associate ourselves with just about any brand; we have set rules in terms of who we cannot work with.”

Beyond the safety implications that working with NBCU talent brings, Chan says she is seeing “advertisers wanting talent more and more because those people are instantly recognizable and people will flock to them.”

She says there is also the added benefit that each talent has a “massive following on social as well, so it’s a great congruent message everywhere.”

So fun #BarbieMovie

— Garcelle Beauvais (@GarcelleB) July 10, 2023

Chan also points to a tie-up for the Barbie movie where Warner Bros and NBCU created a Real Housewives of Beverly Hills social ad campaign using talent from the show. Cast member Garcelle Beauvais posted on Instagram and then other stars and fans commented. “You can see how you can really tap into boosted posts of the movie itself and, the way the audiences are, they’ll just hype it up even more,” she says.

It’s not just non-scripted brands that are borrowing IP. For example, on the scripted side, NBCU did a campaign with a water company on Secret Life of Pets while Mars teamed up with the whole NBCU portfolio to bring M&Ms into the world of Jurassic Park. “You can really leverage those visuals that people instantly recognize, but at the same time make it in a way that feels very true to the brand.”

NBCUniversal One Platform

Chan joined NBCUniversal Advertising in January after a 15-year stint heading up BBC Studios. In her latest post, she is focused on bringing the entire NBCU inventory supply together and gearing up for the full rollout of its One Platform. “That’s ultimately the vision to be that one place, that one front door you come to if you want to buy on linear, digital, social streaming, local-global…”

Chan was courting advertisers at Cannes Lions this year when she announced partnerships with international publishers such as Atresmedia, Bell Media, Seven West Media, Sky Media, Talpa Network, TF1 Group, Tokyo Broadcasting System and Omnicom Media Group. “Ultimately, what advertisers want is value and simplicity, everything to do with addressability, to target and get more into performance and measurement.”

She reveals that advertiser appetite has been good so far, although she does acknowledge that the switch to a one-stop shop media buy is a learning process as agencies aren’t yet structured that way. But, she says, “there is a need for it and people welcome no longer having to hand-stitch media plans from different regions and different agencies.”

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