CBS creates cross-platform sales unit


NEW YORK -- CBS Corp. hopes to cause a RIOT on Madison Avenue. Well, sort of.

The media company on Monday unveiled the creation of a new cross-platform unit that includes its radio, Internet, outdoor and television sales operations and announced Dodge Ram as its inaugural partner via a multi-million dollar ad deal.

CBS RIOT, as the unit will be known to highlight the four media platforms it bridges, will combine the marketing muscle of CBS Radio's 147 stations, CBS Interactive's local Web sites, CBS Outdoor's millions of billboards and the 39 owned and operated CBS TV stations.

Integrating the power of these platforms will "give advertisers unsurpassed reach on a local scale," CBS said in a statement Monday.

"No other company can deliver the national and local reach than these combined divisions of the CBS Corporation," said CBS president and CEO Leslie Moonves. "Whether it's radio, television, outdoor or online, we have the real estate that can most effectively deliver a client's message, and CBS RIOT is designed to leverage these platforms to give advertisers the reach and flexibility they need."

CBS RIOT will be run "in unison" by three executives, according to the company. The three executives are Richard Lobel, executive vp, Altitude Group, CBS Radio; Jon Camera, senior vp, business development, CBS Television Stations; and Brigg Hyland, senior vp, business development, CBS Outdoor.

All major media and entertainment companies have in recent years focused on enabling ad deals covering various media platforms and have created separate divisions to do so.

However, after much initial fanfare, most companies have been doing cross-platform business much more quietly.

Critics said that in the early going, media companies often pushed for such deals to sell ad inventory even on media assets that didn't make much sense for a specific marketer simply to showcase their cross-platform reach. They also said such deals early on often mainly allowed to provide ad discounts to gain market share. Observers have said though that both sides have learned to design multi-platform ad packages that please both over the years.

CBS RIOT's first multi-platform ad sales deal is a multi-million dollar promotion for Dodge Ram targeting male consumers, the companies said Monday. The campaign, set to launch Wednesday, will create customized spots on local TV and radio stations in more than 100 markets to lead audiences to a co-branded Web site on CBS, where users can play a game tied to Dodge Ram's "Rock 'Em, Sock 'Em" theme.

Over the course of one month, CBS estimated that the combined CBS media will create 400 million new impressions on CBS via the promotion.

On TV, vignettes featuring Janelle Pierzina from CBS's "Big Brother," boxing legend Smokin' Joe Frazier and CBS Sports announcer Gus Johnson will air on the company's 17 CBS stations and 73 CBS affiliates during periods with strong male viewershi, specifically late night TV. On the CBS network, late night promotional time will be used. The CBS radio stations will also feature on-air plugs of the online game, including interviews with winners during drive time.

In the process, CBS and Dodge will give away close to 10,000 prizes, including Dodge Rams, VIP boxing trips, Apple iPods and other merchandise.

"We were very selective in who we wanted to partner with in launching this campaign, and no other media company came to the table with such a 'can do' spirit," said Mark Spencer, brand director for Dodge Ram. "CBS got what we wanted to do from day one, and they worked hand in hand with our agency in creating a campaign that hit all the right themes and targets."