Writer and creative consultant
Writer and creative consultant
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CNN-

Talk about a fucking clusterfuck!

Senior executive at CNN, Discovery and Warner Bros. are dodging bullets, live bombshells and knife-wielding back stabbers prowling hallways and Zoom meetings after the dead-in-the-water launch of CNN+.

The highly-touted news streaming CNN brand extension was launched on March 29, 2022 to feeble numbers. Then unceremoniously snuffed out a fortnight later.

Around a billion dollars was spent on defining, building and delivering the new service. Star talent like Chris Wallace joined for ungodly gobs of money. Even more money was spent on an infantile marketing campaign. (Seriously, the television launch commercial looked like it was put together by first year design students from a bottom-tier college.)

And the strategy? Some hodgepodge devised by first year accountants masquerading as business consultants as opposed to seasoned news people.

CNN originally succeeded because it brought you the news other networks couldn’t.

The first Gulf War was a defining moment for CNN. A roller coaster that started with the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait on August 2, 1990.

During the first days of the bombing, the CNN team was able to report live via radio from their hotel suite in the Rashid Hotel. Then they got the camera crews on the ground and beamed edited footage into everyone’s homes. They made history.

Instead of spending money on executives, celebrity programming, tv spots and glittering billboards, CNN+ should have sent 100 field reporters armed with GoPro cameras and branded helmets and flak jackets into Ukraine to cover the current war in real-time.

Stream 100 real-time points of view simultaneously into everyone’s homes and phones. Let viewers choose which reporters and stories to follow. Given them angles they cannot see or hear any other way. Raw, unfiltered news.

Call it CNN++ to differentiate from every other media brand adding streaming services with a single plus sign after their name. Twice as plus!!

Better yet, call it CNN REAL NEWS (yes, in all caps) to position away from every other news brand. And away from the stigma of fake news that is permeating mainstream news brands everywhere.

Actually, a really great name would be CNN PRESS. It does triple duty. Reinforces the brand’s breaking news DNA, provides designation and protection on the battlefield according to Geneva Conventions, and actions what viewers have to do on their remotes to choose their point(s) of view.  

CNN PRESS is still going to need promos and billboards. Don’t add an extra layer of meaning or interpolate the message or use talking heads. Ditch celebrities.

Build from the DNA. Build all advertising from the reporters’ footage. For tv spots, pull out from a single war image to multiple images until a bigger picture is revealed.

Use that bigger picture for billboards and everything else.


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