2012 Media Players of the Year shortlist: Bell Media

The 10 companies shortlisted for Media Player of the Year in Marketing’s Nov. 19 issue were at the top of their game in 2012. We’ll be featuring each one online as a lead-up to our January 2013 issue, where you’ll find out which media company will reign supreme. While its year is ending in a […]

The 10 companies shortlisted for Media Player of the Year in Marketing’s Nov. 19 issue were at the top of their game in 2012. We’ll be featuring each one online as a lead-up to our January 2013 issue, where you’ll find out which media company will reign supreme.

While its year is ending in a fight with regulators, this giant shook the nation with bold moves all year

With a relatively small number of media companies in Canada, there can be a “not-these-guys-again” feel to annual lists such as this.

Which is to say, yes, Bell Media and its previous incarnations have become something of a fixture on Marketing’s annual Media Players of the Year shortlist.

Despite the CRTC’s decision in mid-October to nix parent company BCE’s highly contentious acquisition of Montreal’s Astral Media—totally unexpected given the federal regulator’s seeming receptivity to the concept of big media in recent years—Bell Media nonetheless stood out again this year as a progressive, advertiser-friendly company boasting a collection of first-class media brands, continued ratings success in conventional/specialty TV and radio, product innovation, bold integrated advertising programs and experienced senior leadership.

Whether it was inserting TD Canada Trust’s iconic green chair into episodes of the U.S. show The X Factor (pictured), delivering an average of 7.5 million viewers (5.1 million on flagship channel CTV alone) for the London Olympics (as part of the now-deceased Olympic Broadcast Consortium), or debuting new “fingerprint” technology enabling two distinct but complementary ad experiences to be delivered simultaneously to viewers watching a CTV or Discovery Channel show on both their TV and iOS device, Bell was once again a marketing must-have in 2012.

“We’re really pleased with the partnership we have with Bell Media,” says Jeff Thibodeau, senior vice-president of digital and investment for MediaCom Canada. “Where they’re really standing out for me is on platform innovation,” he says. “It’s channels people don’t even know they have available to them yet.”

This year, MediaCom partnered with Bell on its new fingerprint technology for the P&G brands Gillette Venus and Olay (other brand partners included Virgin Mobile and Bell Mobility). While stressing that it is “very early days” for the technology, Thibodeau says consumer engagement with the ads is surpassing standard click-through rates.

P&G is also one of the flagship partners of the MMVAs, one of several properties that Bell has transformed into an advertiser showcase over the years. This year’s event, for example, featured eight sponsorships and seven brand integrations that included Coca-Cola Canada, Blackberry, H&M and Virgin.

Bell’s integrated sales unit typically creates more than 150 advertising campaigns in a year, and is achieving year-over-year sales growth in the double digits, says vice-president, brand partnerships Mary Kreuk.

But while new programs such as the TD/X Factor partnership get all the attention, Kreuk says existing Bell Media properties—such as the “Wendy’s Kick for a Million” program, currently in its eighth iteration, or newer programs like “Coca-Cola Covers” and the “Kraft Celebration Tour”—continue to drive the company’s success.

In addition to the standard ratings successes for its conventional network CTV and specialty leaders like TSN, Bell also continued to grow its digital platforms—which now amass more than 148 million online video views each month—and introduced complementary digital-only content for freshman shows like Saving Hope.

It enhanced its content creation through a partnership with Cirque du Soleil that will deliver Quebec-based media content for TV, film, digital and even gaming platforms.

The company also integrated its television and digital sales team under the leadership of Rita Fabian, who assumed the title of executive vice-president, advertising sales—a move intended to allow Bell to best respond to the needs of its advertiser partners.

Bell will no doubt face considerable scrutiny by analysts and advertisers in the wake of its failed bid for the Astral assets. However, given its pedigree and continued attempts to create out-of-the-box marketing solutions for clients, there remains a better-than-average chance it will appear on this list in future years.

To read more about the companies that made the Media Players of the Year and Marketers of the Year shortlists, check out Marketing’s Nov. 19 issue, which is on newsstands now.

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