US Advertisers 'Dissatisfied' With TV Upfront Buying Rites

12 March 2004

America's Association of National Advertisers is in the mood for change, warns that body's president/ceo Robert D Liodice.

Addressing the ANA's Television Advertising Forum in New York City this week, Liodice unveiled survey data showing that a majority of his members (56.5%) who participate in the annual ritual of upfront TV buying are "somewhat or very dissatisfied with the process".

Moreover, 50% agreed with a statement that their companies "would support dramatic changes in the upfront [market]".

As a consequence of this survey the ANA (whose 340 member-companies between them spend $100 billion a year on marketing communications) is to meet with the American Association of Advertising Agencies to discuss the issue and seek a resolution to the upfront's shortcomings.

Members' main gripes over the upfront emerged loud and clear from the survey …

• It should commence in May rather than in early Spring, at which later time most marketers have a better idea of their ad budgets for the coming year.

• The buying and selling period, which sometimes lasts less than a week, should be extended.

• The negotiating clock should be stopped at a certain hour, rather than let it run all night.

• There should be no drastic changes in the prime-time lineups, which result in the disappearance of shows advertisers had agreed to buy.

• And the networks should limit the replacement of scripted series with reality shows -- the latter being less predictable and more potentially objectionable in content.

The ANA initiative will be led by Perianne Grignon, services director at Sears, Roebuck and co-chair of the body's television advertising committee, with Kaki Hilton, vp for advertising services at Pfizer. The duo will form a subcommittee with representatives from agencies as well as member companies.

If antitrust concerns can be overcome, the ANA will also invite executives from the TV networks to join the meetings. The subcommittee, says Liodice, "fundamentally should include all three [parties]".

Data sourced from: New York Times; additional content by WARC staff