'Skins' Exec: 'I Have No Idea Why Advertisers Are Pulling Out'
Only in America apparently could there be such a fuss over a little skin.
So mused Steve Morrison, the CEO of All3Media, the British-based company behind the controversial teen series on MTV, who had just landed in Miami for NATPE.
The original British show Skins, he pointed out, has been blithely airing in the U.K. for five years, and indeed on BBC America more recently, without any uproar from any quarter. (All3Media unit Company Pictures is the producer behind the original idea and script.)
But Morrison arrived in Miami just as the fourth major US advertiser, Subway, pulled Monday its commercials from the American version on MTV. Schick, the fifth major US sponsor, also announced Monday it won't show its ads during the show.
"On 'Skins,' I really have no idea specifically why advertisers are pulling out. But we stand behind what MTV has said and done about the hoopla," Morrison said.
"The show in our view explores real world issues in a frank, responsible and legal way," Morrison maintained during a Q&A discussion about his company's plans for U.S. expansion.
Morrison went on to say that Skins is a comedy-drama, which if one sticks with it beyond the few things that are being fixated on by detractors, should grow on the viewer and not be simply or principally outrageous.
All3Media is also the originator, through one or another of the entities it has acquired on both sides of the Atlantic, of Undercover Boss, Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader and of Shameless.
During 2011 Morrison expects at least three of his UK units to set up shop Stateside: Company Pictures, Objective (the producer of Peepshow), and Maverick, which focuses on female-skewing content.
Wayne Garvey, formerly a top exec at BBC Worldwide, was recently hired as managing director of international productions for All3Media and will be tasked with driving the transatlantic format traffic for the mini-conglom.
"I think there's going to be more hybrid reality dramas in the U.S. going forward," Morrison opined, when asked about the impact of shows like Jersey Shore and Skins.
"We hope we can double our revenues from activities in the U.S in this calendar year, which would bring the percentage contribution of our American units into double digits," he estimated.