The event wasn’t all business, but the Latino-focused media company never lost sight of its main mission. Even singer Shakira, who performed for advertisers, recognized that the upfront was about relationship building. She ended her appearance directly addressing company owner Haim Saban, who was in the audience. She says that she considers herself “part of the Univision familiy. You can always, always count on me.” The Facebook news underscored the company’s big push this year into digital media. Univision says it will introduce its online programming destination, UVideos, this summer by having its celebrities and personalities participate in a series of live chats on Facebook. But Univision’s bottom line focus was laid out in Ad Sales and Marketing President David Lawenda’s opening presentation — the most direct and compelling sales pitch I’ve heard so far this upfront season. “Move 15% of your budget to Univision” he told the audience. “You have flat or declining media budgets,” he noted. His networks’ audiences are growing while the traditional English language networks ask for higher CPM unit rates on their flat or declining ratings. “The single biggest risk you can make going out of here today is to do what you did last year.” Execs fired their sharpest barbs at NBC. Univision says it beat the network’s prime time 18-to-49 audience on 195 nights. “NBC’s ‘Must See TV’ has become ‘Might See TV’,” Lawenda says.
The ad sales chief challenged the popular counter-argument that Latinos will tune in to the Big Four networks as more become bilingual. He says that Univision has 48 of top 50 shows among bilingual viewers. “You cannot reach Latinos en mass anywhere but Univision.” The company also says that its audience, with a median age of 36, is a generation younger than the major English language networks, and 94% of the audience watches programming live. Lawenda cited as a success story DreamWorks Animation’s experience using Univision to promote Puss In Boots. “We delivered the entire company to this challenge” scheduling cast members including Antonio Banderas and integrating references to the film into its programs. As a result Lawenda says Univision drove 35% of the opening weekend ticket sales. DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg “personally called me” to affirm the network’s key role in launching the movie.