Earlier this month, Les Moonves—the never-shy CEO and president of CBS Corporation—raised eyebrows with a bold prediction to investors and analysts: a double-digit ad sales increase in this month’s upfront market for the company’s flagship television network. What surprised the audience even more were the numbers to back up his words. Last-minute commercial buys were up 40 percent, and adjusted operating income had doubled in the quarter, to $230 million.
“We have the number-one scripted series, the number-one drama, the number-one sitcom, the number-one news sitcom, the number-one news magazine, and the number one most-watched scripted series every single night of the week,” he told the audience. “As we look into the future, our schedule is set up to succeed for a long time.” CBS’s ability to maximize ratings success into profits is rooted in its long partnership with the advertising industry, which stretches far beyond traditional business relationships. Case in point: The network was one of the earliest and biggest supporters of the Advertising Educational Foundation when it was created in 1983 and has continued to be a committed partner. For this reason, the organization is presenting this year’s Media Award to CBS.
“CBS really helped get us off our feet and do the work we were established to do,” says Paula Alex, AEF’s CEO. “We don’t have any annual dues, so we’ve always relied upon the support of members like CBS and ad agencies and other big media companies.”
Adds Jo Ann Ross, CBS president of network sales (and one of Adweek’s just-named 10 Most Powerful Women in Television), “As a mass media company that reaches back to the country’s most talented students. Recently, CBS participated with Howard University’s Center for Excellence in Advertising to sponsor the First Annual Next Generation Advertising “Boot Camp.” In the program, 25 students from colleges across the nation compete for internships at the premier ad shops.
CBS has also made efforts on behalf of kids before they get to college. A strong Ad Council supporter, CBS has leveraged its network’s assets to take on key social issues, including the need to recruit more health workers to help save the lives of newborns and children. To call attention to the children’s
healthcare cause, last year CBS created a PSA that aired on television’s top-rated show, its own NCIS: Naval Criminal Investigative Service—and tied it into the show by featuring NCIS costar Pauley Perrette on the commercial.