During our Future of TV summit, Rick Beispel, SVP, National Sales & Strategy, Cadent, hosted Steve Lanzano, President and CEO of the TVB, and TD Dixon, Chief Growth Officer, Post Consumer Brands, for a panel on How Broadcast TV Helps Marketers During the Pandemic and Beyond. Catch a video of the full session, and a recap of the conversation, below.

This year has been a big one for broadcast, especially for political dollars. Steve said that during the midterm season in 2018, about $3.2 billion was spent on local broadcast TV, compared to $4.2 billion political is on track for this year.

Below is a lightly edited and condensed version of Rick, TD and Steve’s conversation. 

Rick: The election has been meaningful to TVB association members – how was this political cycle particularly unusual?

Steve: You need timing flexibility and you need creative flexibility. Then you need scale, right? As TD will tell you, if you need to reach a lot of people to move product. That is exactly the game plan that marketers have and why they use local broadcast, TV and political, and exactly the game plan that national advertisers had this year in terms of getting their messages out… So having flexibility, having trust, having scale in premium environments has really been the game plan for all marketers this year and not just the political market.

Rick: There was no playbook for the past few months. The family landscape, which TD serves at Post Consumer Brands, has been altered by stay-at-home orders, virtual schooling and more. How did you alter your approach to better serve your customers?

TD: For us, there were two fundamental consumer behavior shifts. One was what we call retrench…the fear of the pandemic, the uncertainty, created a dynamic that caused people to cocoon back home. The second we call reset, which gets to the uncertainty of the future which resets the shopping behaviors and even the way people decided to spend their money. As marketers and as manufacturers, how do we deliver against those fundamental changes?

Because this notion of safety was such an important part of the new consumer dynamic, comfort brands were important. So we try to leverage brands like Honey Bunches of Oats and Grape Nuts, really tried-and-true brands. We leveraged those brands as our front runners with those consumers.

To deal with the reset, this is where value has taken on a whole other level of prominence, and we’re fortunate that we own the value space within the cereal category with our MOM brand. And again, we really focused on reinforcing that value.

As marketers and as manufacturers, how do we deliver against those fundamental changes? Because this notion of safety was such an important part of the new consumer dynamic, comfort brands were important.” – TD Dixon, Chief Growth Officer, Post Consumer Brands

Rick: With the adaptability that you mentioned, were there localized initiatives to take advantage of particular markets?

TD: It goes back to this notion of trust, right? Not only are consumers looking for brands they can trust, they’re looking to their news outlets and vehicles where they get their information. We definitely were much more hyper-targeted within local markets. There’s a lot of regionality that we have with our brand, but even more so in this hyper-politicized, hyper-polarized time, being able to focus in those local markets and  attach yourself to local entities, as well as your local news broadcast [became important].

Rick: How does an advertiser tap into local sports passion? I think it’s a huge opportunity for marketers.

Steve: Absolutely. Not only professional football, but college football. The Giant games in New York are doing big ratings, right? They might not do a big rating outside of New York. In fact, the Giant-Cowboy game in both Dallas and New York, did you huge ratings. Tapping into that passion is gold for a marketer, and on a local level, doing a promotion with a station, really can up your partnership with that sport.

Rick: The TV marketplace is certainly marked by fragmentation and cord-cutting technology. How are you viewing CTV and OTT?

TD: It’s funny because someone asked, “is TV going away?” I think we can all agree that TV’s not going away, it just had a lot of babies. So, as marketers, we have to determine which are the right babies for us to focus on. And that’s what we’ve done. We spend a lot of time trying to understand not just who the “who” is, but what is it that they want to hear?

I look at it as more of an opportunity than as a challenge because, you know, even though we, we can all remember way back when it was three networks and you just went out there and did a shotgun approach. Now it’s more of a sniper approach – you can not only be more targeted, you can also be more relevant with that specific group.

Rick: TD, you mentioned on our prep call that “People have fallen back in love with TV and that appointment viewing with TV is starting to happen again.” What does falling back in love with TV mean to Post Consumer Brands and the audiences you serve?

TD: When sports live sports came back on TV, that was such a relief for people and a release for people. Those eyeballs are now coming back and leveraging that, albeit on a local level, is really the way for marketers to re-emerge again. One of the things that we have to be conscious of is maintaining that share of voice. Because people aren’t necessarily going into the stores as much as they used to, you have to almost get the decision in their mind before they ever actually make that transaction. And so that’s where TV has been an efficient medium for us to be able to do that.

Rick: And Steve, the local broadcasters have a lot of in the CTV arena. Sinclair has STIRR, and Nexstar has the LKQD platform. It seems like hyper-local CTV is getting traction.

Steve: There’s an insatiable appetite by advertisers for over the top inventory, and there’s not a lot out there right now. Being able to provide that scale and that hyper targeting in terms of over-the-top is a gold mine. And as we get into the new next-gen broadcast product, ATSC 3.0, we’ve been getting more targeted on not only connected TVs, but also mobile devices.

Rick: At the ANA Masters of Marketing conference last week, there was discussion around the importance of brand purpose. TD, Post Consumer Brand’s purpose it to “make better happen.” How did you embody that mantra this year?

TD: For our consumers, obviously cereal is a is a staple of households and becoming even more of a staple of again as people come home. And given all the stay at home orders, all the business closures, all the unemployment, we donated millions of dollars to food banks and hunger relief organizations, Second Harvest and Feeding America, to enable people to have a bowl of cereal every morning. We’re really proud of that.

Maybe what makes me even more proud is what we did for our employees and particularly our frontline workers and our manufacturing personnel. One of the things that our CEO decided to do was offer significant bonuses for people who are willing to work above and beyond in order to keep up with that demand.

Learn more about the future of data-driven TV advertising in our series, “Coming to Terms with TV Ad Terms.”

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