Writers and Advertisers Talking

Last week a coalition of WGA members went to NYC to talk with the seven largest media buyers on Wall Street.

These ad buyers are the large corporations (like Proctor & Gamble, Johson & Johnson, etc.) who advertise on TV and pay the networks' bills.

Our WGA crew, lead by Matthew Weiner, showrunner of "Mad Men," laid out our position to the advertisers -- who for some reason might not be getting entirely accurate forecasts from their corporate customers like CBS.

The event was a success. The coalition of media buyers agreed that our demands are reasonable and that it was "irresponsible on the part of the networks not to settle this dispute immediately."

Our hope is to enlist advertisers as our allies -- settling the strike is in their interest as well as ours. They agreed to put pressure on the conglomerates to do the only thing that will end the strike: come back to the table and negotiate a fair deal.

Jack Myers reported in his article "Advertisers and Agencies Meet with Writers as Long Strike Seems Pre-Ordained" about the meetings, and quotes Sarah Fay, CEO of Carat U.S. and Isobar:
"The strike is a huge issue for advertisers. It seems like the networks are intent on burning their own house. And ours! Not only that, but it also appears that the industry press, and of course the news channels, won't cover the writers' side fairly because of politics. They [The Writers] are now talking to people like me because they want us to know how dire the situation is."
Myers goes on to discuss deals that Writers are making directly with advertisers as they migrate away from the studios and networks, and to the internet.

In the interim, Family Guy creator Seth McFarlane has contracted with Google to develop a series of sponsored five-minute mini-programs. Rather than residuals, McFarlane will retain 50 percent ownership of the copyright. Other WGA members are forming ventures to take their work directly to the internet, allowing them to deal directly with advertisers.

The media buyers get it. The public gets it. The congloms appear to be the only ones who don't understand -- their determination to keep internet revenues all to themselves is damaging their own businesses, and even the rosiest predictions about ad revenue are starting to be questioned.

Sooner or later, Wall Street is going to get involved -- advertisers shareholders, media conglomerate shareholders. Burning down the house -- everyone's house -- for the sake of corporate greed isn't going to fly.

The AMPTP needs to come back to the table and negotiate in good faith. And we're not the only ones telling them to do it.


BTL Guy said...

For all the Writers who are forming their own companies and creating content on the web, I have a big question:

Who are you hiring and what are you paying them?

If this strike is about extending Union jurisdiction to the internet, are you backing up the words with actions?

Will you be hiring a 600 guy to operate camera? A 695 guy for sound? 728 for electric? Union hair, makeup, wardrobe, scripty, crafty?

Just curious...

intrigued said...

This is the first move I've seen the WGA make that I without a doubt have to say is a GREAT MOVE!

Maybe the WGA finally understands that this is a business fight. This is clearly a business move and a good move.

I see plenty of upset from having thsi meeting and no downside.

Unknown said...

I think that going straight to the internet is a great idea. Between being fed up with my cable provider, not being able to see a full season of Lost, my TV is going to the junkyard next month. I'll read books, go on the internet, play video games and rent DVDs. The studios unwillingness to work with the writers is disgusting. They are foolish to think that their loyal TV viewers will return. I'll be leaving soon, and I'm not coming back.

And as for the others that work in show biz, as far as I know, you still need a cameraman and others to stream content onto the internet. So all is not lost . . . and 50% of the copyright is a heckavu better deal for the writers.

rankandfiler said...

According to Ad Age, "Fox’s American Idol is network TV’s highest priced regular series for advertisers. The cost of a 30-second unit for upcoming episodes (which begin in January 2008) is $700,000 for both the Monday [sic] and Tuesday installments."

According to the WGA, if the AMPTP agreed to every proposal currently on the table, Fox's share would be about $6.08 million per year.

So... for the cost of 8 1/2 ad buys, or roughly FOUR MINUTES of commercials over the course of the entire season of American Idol 7, the advertisers will have paid an amount equivalent to what Fox is refusing to pay to settle this strike.

Screw Fremantle and their non-union ways. We should hit them where it hurts and target Idol's "Big 3" sponsors: Coke, Ford, and AT&T. This is a chance for them to step up and do the right thing.

Ilike2think said...

rankandfiler said...
Screw Fremantle and their non-union ways. We should hit them where it hurts and target Idol's "Big 3" sponsors: Coke, Ford, and AT&T. This is a chance for them to step up and do the right thing.

I so agree, this is something that can be set up like the firefox letter and pimped to everyone on all sites. We have until January 8th. Idol starts on the 9th. I'm willing to spread the word if someone can set up the letter.

Unknown said...

btl guy - internet content will be made by a few people only: very guerilla. you will not be able to make ends meet.

those that think they can ACTUALLY boycott American Idol, Ford, Coca Cola, or AT&T - you guys have NO clue! Unless Coke, Ford and AT&T decide to pull their resources out of the show, there is NO WAY in hell a boycott can work in ANY way. Stop bringing this idea up it's worthless.

The only way this thing will end FAST is for the CEOs to come together and decide to end this strike - and that isn't happening for several months.

In speaking with highly placed executives around town, they all seem pretty pessimistic about the strike ending. Force majeure will happen. Writers and talent deals will be expunged. Execs will lose jobs. It is going to get more ugly before things start to get better.

If anyone thinks this is as bad as things can get, you are sadly mistaken. This is going to drag out AT LEAST until March (hello the Oscars are on February 24). UNLESS of course the CEOs decide to end the strike. So forget Nick Counter - he's just the CEOs' puppet. Go find Les Moonves et. al in Aspen and take matters up with them.

Unknown said...

To BTL Guy

If Tom Short can negotiate a deal with Google, I'm sure the writers will use an IA crew.

Good luck with that.

Does that satisfy your curiosity?

Caitlin said...

Okay, well, let's petition Coke, Ford, and AT&T to pull their advertising. And keep talking to the advertisers. Because, damn it, I'm getting a headache just being here.