NBUniversal Cable Chair Bonnie Hammer walked onstage Thursday to MC Hammer announcing: “Hammertime.” It was the best musical cue of the network upfronts.
But the ad buyers in the audience may have been more excited about the word in Hammer’s “U Can’t Touch This” that comes right before the word “Hammertime.” That word is “Stop.”
The presentation meant the upfronts were finally over. The major networks have spent the last week courting ad buyers, trying to get them to buy time during their upcoming seasons. It’s been a Sharknado of shrimp cocktails, sizzle reels, and white veneers reciting marketing data.
NBCU Cable ended the week where NBC started it, in a cavernous, hanger-like space at the Javitz Center at the western edge of Manhattan.
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Trying to take it easy on advertisers, NBCU grouped together all of its cable networks into one presentation. It would have been impossible for it not to feel a little all over the place. It veered from E! personalities to Esquire Network hosts talking about food and cars, and Syfy stars trotting out new dramas set in space.
The WWE announced that it would extend its partnership with NBCUniversal, which includes airing “Raw” on USA.
NBCU had another point to make with “U Can’t Touch This”: that the company has a cable reach no other company can match. USA is the top-rated cable network, and Bravo and E! are also ratings powerhouses.
Still, the end of the week had everyone a little punchy, including E! stars Kim Kardashian and Joan Rivers. Kardashian, wearing the plungingest outfit of the upfronts, took time out from planning her wedding to attend, as NBC ad sales chief Linda Yaccarino told the crowd.
Yaccarino said they were getting along so well that they should call themselves Kimda, and trademark the term.
“I already did about 10 minutes ago,” Kardashian said.
Yaccarino told Kardashian how great she is.
“I know,” said Kardashian in a sing-song, sounding exactly like Nasim Pedrar does when she plays her on “Saturday Night Live.”
Then Kardashian flubbed a Teleprompter line, and a few mean advertising people laughed at her.
But the ad buyers couldn’t match Joan Rivers for mean. The comic legend delivered a series of barbed jokes that compared E! to the celebrities it covers.
“We’re like the Braxtons with some cash,” she said.
She also noted the network’s 24/7 schedule.
“It’s like Zac Efron on a meth run,” she said.
Efron has denied a recent run-in with a homeless man had anything to do with drugs, but said he has attended Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.
Andy Cohen stuck with the overdoing-it theme, saying his “Watch What Happens Live” is largely about drinking — and getting people to drink along at home. Joel McHale said he needed a drink after the long presentation. (His week included NBC cancelling his show, “Community.”) Yaccarino told advertisers exactly how many minutes it would be until the bar opened.
Open bars, passed hors d’oeuvres, and selfies with celebrities are a big part of the networks’ seduction strategy. But Friday morning will find advertisers with a ringing hangover:
Now it’s time to buy some ads.