Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Will campaigning help CBS?

We've seen them all before -- the large billboards jutting up from an undisclosed location off highways across the country plastered with a team of anchors smiling and bug-eyed, looking straight into the cars driving under them. Since I was little, I'd look up at these station advertisements and I'd imagine my portrait blown up fifty times and plastered on the billboard. What i didn't think about was that these boards serve as advertisements and campaigns for not only the stations, but the faces. Those larger than life smiles seem to say, "Watch my show and listen to my station because my friendly smile and perfectly groomed appearence means I'll give you the news you care about." I never took them to be serious. But I was driving on the highway yesterday and noticed a billboard that took this idea to the extreme in a last ditch effort. Splashed across this particular billboard was a familiar face with her familiar smile and head tilt: Katie Couric. But it wasn't just her smile that made me think, "Oh god, it's Katie Couric again." The billboard read, "Choose Couric."
Now we are not only advertising, we are campaigning! In what I can only interpret as CBS's desperate effort to climb in the ratings and not have to fire Couric, they are resorting to campaigning and telling drivers on the highway to "choose" and essentially elect to watch Couric.
I think CBS could have done better. Understandably, Couric is not fulfilling her purpose in helping the network's ratings -- in fact, she's has proven to be counterproductive. I read an article that said she was in danger of being let go because CBS remains in third place. But there was nothing that verified this fact more than a tacky highway billboard with a message that resembled a cheap political campaign without any substance.
Since when did journalism resort to such political tactics? I think we are in a dangerous spot if viewers are gauging their devotion to news anchors and reporters from the campaigning they receive.
Another scary thought is networks resorting to billboard advertisement. I have always asociated billboard advertisments to be cheap and desperate -- they are overdone and larger than life to catch attention for a product that needs advertising. More often than not, you find law offices that promise to get you all the money you deserve from your personal injury. The billboards are more often than not covered in tacky coloring to catch your attention, contributing to my opinion that these billboards are obnoxious advertising.
Has CBS really resorted to advertising Couric in this way? If I were Couric, I would never allow myself to be on a billboard that demanded people to "choose" me. That phrase plastered on the billboard diminishes her credibility further, in my opinion. It's a cheap and tacky attempt to gain viewership -- I would be extremely surprised if this works for CBS.

The closest picture I could find that is the background for the billboard.


At Thursday, April 26, 2007, Blogger ji said...

Choose Couric or choose death?...I am going to give death a shot. I really feel that CBS is at the bottom of the barrel with this ad campaign to watch Couric. But lets get to the root of the problem, Couric cast herself as a morning personality at NBC...being bubbly and lighthearted and doing fluff pieces. She typecast herself. Shifting from such a prominent feature role to a serious journalist is not working for Couric. Every time she gives the news, I remember her dancing in Time Sqaure or acting like an idiot on-camera to get viewers to laugh.
And while I should be supportive of a female having the lead anchor position on nightly news I must ask---why her? Was Elizabeth Vargas not available or some other anchor from anywhere in the country. It seems like CBS picked Couric all along as a ratings scheme. However, it backfired in their face. They were not able to reinvent Couric. So, news flash, couric you are not Madonna, you cannot go on a reinvention tour in a journalism career and be that successful, esp. going from A Time Square Tootsie to a Hard Hitting Journalist. Hey, maybe she could follow Madonna even more and adopt a british accent and go work for the BBC!


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