Eye will strike up the brand

'Only CBS' marketing effort will emphasize ratings growth

With the broadcast upfront presentations right around the corner, CBS is preparing to launch a new business-based branding campaign that emphasizes the network's strongest selling point.

The network is rolling out an extensive marketing effort highlighted by the tagline "Only CBS." Ads will note that CBS is the sole broadcast network to grow its audience in the top ratings categories this season.

"We're going on offense and separating CBS from everybody else," said George Schweitzer, president of CBS marketing. "We've had a great year, we're the only network up and we have the No. 1 new show. We thought we'd get the megaphone out."

Schweitzer said this is the first time CBS, if not any broadcaster, has launched such a business-based ad campaign for the upfronts. Outlets will include programs such as the network's "60 Minutes" and "Face the Nation," along with full-page newspaper ads and online ads to reach executive-level decision makers.

With NBC having its "infront" presentation today, the timing of the CBS campaign could be considered particularly aggressive. But Schweitzer said the plan was always to launch "Only CBS" two weeks before its upfront.

"This has nothing to do with any other network," he said.

CBS will not be the only network with a positive story this season -- Fox will have plenty of positive bullet points for its upfront presentation as well. But demonstrating growth in a year marked by decline for media companies should put CBS in a strong position.

Schweitzer said the network is once again planning a relatively brief and traditional presentation that will clock in at 65 minutes. CBS Corp. CEO Les Moonves will open the May 20 event, then entertainment president Nina Tassler will present the schedule. Estimates predict broadcast networks' upfront advertising haul will be down about 10%-15% this year.

"You can't paint all networks with the same broad brush," said Jo Ann Ross, president of CBS Television Network Sales. "We have a unique ratings story to tell heading into this upfront. We want to communicate in the biggest way possible."

Season to date, CBS is up 12% in viewers and 7% in adults 18-49. The network is also the most-watched for the sixth time in the past seven seasons (last year was the exception because of the writers strike), with Fox leading in the adult demographic. CBS is also touting 18 shows up this season among total viewers.

"Only CBS" is general enough to be used in consumer marketing as well and will take a place in the tradition of CBS taglines such as "Welcome Home" (late 1990s), "The Address Is CBS" (2000), "It's All Here" (early 2000s) and "We Are CBS" ('06). Right now, however, the network's plans only include using the slogan for its May business campaign.