Lauren Zalaznick knows a thing or two about spanning a vast company to make disparate brands and departments work together, experience that will come in handy when Comcast is added to the mix.
Now president of NBC Universal Women & Lifestyle Entertainment networks, Zalaznick is in charge of reaching a powerful and valuable demographic across several NBCU brands.
She also headed the “Green Is Universal” campaign, last year’s unprecedented effort to make some 37 properties more environmentally friendly while at the same time weaving the initiative’s message into dozens of narratives in a cohesive way.
Speaking at TheGrill on Tuesday, Zalaznick was asked about how she thought the integration would unfold — “I thought I had avoided that question,” she quipped — and offered a hint on the message coming from Comcast so far.
Comparing the many NBCU properties to pistons in an engine – not all of which are optimally firing, to be sure — Zalaznick said the message has been that each would have an opportunity to find a way to fit in and thrive under new management.
“What we’ve all been guaranteed is the ability to show what’s going to drive the engine,” Zalaznick said. “It is my sense that any company spending a number of billions of dollars to acquire more assets have got to have a fundamental belief that their company is going to grow based on what’s there.”
And by no means is Zalaznick allowing the sheer size of the combined companies to be an excuse for a lack of innovation.
“My drive inside this huge media conglomerate is a basic philosophy that innovation and creative thinking and new ideas are not necessarily the domain of a startup, or based somewhere else like Silicon Valley … It’s a variation on the theme, ‘It’s a poor workman who blames his tools. If I blame the DVR, if I blame the iPad, I’m not serving the business.”
A key for letting content be king, she said, is to find the “alpha consumers” – passionate, motivated consumers of the content – and grow out from there.
“You can find an alpha consumer in any business,” she said. “And some are louder or richer or better looking or younger than others – but every business has a core group of consumers who can be expert prosthelitizers who can drive your brand in ways that you can’t.”