NBC Boosts Digital Initiatives at NewFront

Daily Candy and Style partnership is the centerpiece of event

NBCUniversal is certainly getting its mileage out of Joel McHale's contracts: a day after the Community star briefly performed at the E! upfront (on which network he hosts The Soup), he introduced NBCUniversal's digital ad buyer event, or "NewFront."

"Coincidentally, that's what my wife and I were going to name our firstborn child, and then we realized that's a stupid name and not even a real word," said McHale in a pre-taped message touting the media conglomerate's dissemination of "the finest non-pornographic content available on the Internet."

The online-focused event included irreverent interviews with NBC execs including newly minted cable ad sales head Linda Yaccarino. Giuliana Rancic, of E! News and Style's Giuliana and Bill, asked Yaccarino if an upfront was an event where "you basically peel jumbo prawns for all the advertisers?"

"I don't do it personally," said Yaccarino. "It ruins the nails."

Examples of new digital initiatives were available by the bushel at the presentation. One clip showcased E!'s use of its digital news team to promote a movie advertising with the company by doing a livestream of red carpet footage at the film's premiere. Indeed, several execs mentioned the theatrical category and quite a few of the ideas vetted were movie-centric.

But there was no new content, as at the other NewFront events this week and last week. "All of this is designed to amplify your gross ratings points," evp of digital media sales Peter Naylor told the crowd.

The event took place at the Skylight West at 30th Street and 10th Avenue. Glee Project alum Alex Newell sang "Boogie Shoes" for buyers after Naylor stepped down, although the Twitter wall managed to catch Naylor's post-presentation tweet during the song: "Speech is over. Need beer. #NBCUnewfront" (How long will it be before somebody tweets "CBS RULEZ! #FoxUpfront" and lands on a giant video screen?).

The party continued upstairs after the speeches were over—cocktails, hors d'ouevres and desserts were passed around as various digital gadgets were shown off for buyers. One table had iPads with casual games, and a booth allowed guests to pick a character class and an avatar for upcoming Syfy programming-integrated multiplayer game Defiance, which will interact with the TV show of the same name. And Daily Candy had a largish vending machine where buyers could "purchase" complimentary gadgets, from various phone accessories to an old-school 35mm camera (think of it as Instagram Analog).

The Entertainment & Digital Networks and Integrated Marketing networks were well represented. Style announced a partnership with Daily Candy called StyleCandy, pairing the two properties for a more retail-focused joint brand. Bravo, meanwhile, pushed its food-centric Around the World in 80 Plates social initiative, while Fandango and Telemundo showed off a partnership designed to reach the high-attendnace Hispanic moviegoer demo.