Telemundo gets a boost

 Thank goodness I decided to take a breather before I posted this latest entry.  I wrote it but set it aside, and then bam!  I read the big news about Jackie Hernandez-Fallous joining Telemundo….the challenges remain but this latest appointment is a step in the right direction.  Time-Warner’s loss is NBC’s gain.

It’s been been about three years since Bacardi bought Grey Goose vodka for roughly $2 billion.  And it’s been about SIX years since GE’s NBC paid about the same amount of money for Telemundo.  Funny thing is that Bacardi has already recouped its investment but GE seems to still be figuring out what it bought.  Or still trying to figure out what to do.  I know, I know, I can already hear folks telling me that you can’t compare apples to oranges, or can I?

Lifestyle marketing — Grey Goose’s former owner, Sidney Frank, was a legend in his own time–in the wine & spirits business, that is–and he knew plenty about brand-building.  His game was not simply about marketing to folks; it was about understanding and leveraging peoples’ lifestyles–you had to understand them deep and broad.  As we know, lifestyles as they’re reflected in media habits, have changed dramatically so if you really think about it, NBC has faltered in recent years not only on the English-language front but also on the Spanish-language front.  It’s all about really knowing what moves your prospective consumers, and where and when that happens. Badge branding — it’s hard to tell whether Telemundo is a badge brand.  Or for that matter, any TV network–English or Spanish.  Home Shopping Channel, ESPN, MTV and BET are some of the exceptions.  I mean, it would be hard to describe the Telemundo “tribe”–what is the personality of the Telemundo viewer?  Most people, these days, have an easier time telling you what a TV network is NOT: “I prefer watching Telemundo because it’s not so Mexican like Univision” (comment overheard in Miami, made by a Dominican female).  Quite honestly, it would be hard to describe the tribe for any TV network.  The days of the network brand are long gone.  It’s now about appointment TV.  This is what all TV networks have been slow to get.  The personality and the selling proposition rests in the individual program, not the network.  (But of course, you can tell I’m not a TV ad sales guy because I probably just something stupid.)

Leadership & Management — I know plenty of folks at Telemundo and they are some of the hardest-working people around.  But does GE Jeffrey Immelt  know that?  And with so many challenges on his plate, does Jeff Zucker even care?  I mean, when you have Immelt once telling his head of Latin American that they “could use some help with US Hispanic,” you have to wonder about his commitment to Telemundo’s people.   The truth is, NBC has never really leveraged Telemundo. 

But it does boil down to management.  If you think about it, the smartest guy in the history of Spanish language TV has to be Jerry Perenchio.  He knew how to make his zillions–when to get in, how to groom it up, and when to get out.  But now Telemundo has Jackie, and that’s a great thing…she knows a thing or two about brand-building.  Let’s see how long it takes Jeff Gaspin to stop asking for Don Browne.

Mun2 — sometimes you don’t know how good you have it until you lose it and NBC’s Latino cable channel, mun2, could be very well be a case in point.  It is the closest thing that NBC has to a badge brand.  But again, NBC has not given mun2 the resources that would allow to it flourish in its space.  And clearly, mun2 has some of the most market savvy folks IN that space, from Flavio Morales in programming to Joe Bernard in sales, to Jose Marquez in digital.  Geez, if NBC unleashed Jose, Rupert Murdoch’s kids at mySpace would have to watch their back.  It’s about really knowing your tribe and doing something with and for them.  Hmmm…maybe mun2 would make a great addition to NBC’s stable of cable networks. 

Just think, if NBC had been properly supporting mun2 all these years perhaps it too would be in Bacardi’s place–smiling all the way to the bank.  It still can happen.

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