2 years ago

Help, Mr. Weaver!

By Norty Cohen

Author, The Participation Game and Join The Brand (coming October, 2018)

Pat Weaver invented the TV spot 70 years ago.

Someone Hit Fast Forward.

Sylvester “Pat” Weaver was a pioneer in both the entertainment and advertising industries and set the tone for most of the programming we enjoy today.

He was the original content creator. He had his hand in everything from The Tonight Show to the concept behind Saturday Night Live. You can thank him for giving your thumb exercise every time you watch a recorded show.

He didn’t invent the remote. But he was the innovator of the TV spot.  

The story actually starts in the 1930s. Back in the day, advertisers and their agencies created radio shows and everything revolved around one hour time slots. Pat Weaver had a knack for it and at one point, he promoted a radio insult feud between comedians Jack Benny and Fred Allen. He kept listeners tuning in once a week for eight years. 

Around 1950, when TV was starting to make its way into American households, the ad industry had a dilemma. The cost to produce an entire show was over $1MM – the equivalent of $10MM today.

Pat pitched the idea of treating TV like a printed magazine and breaking it up into segments.  His idea was that the network could create the shows and then sell sixty second spots.  Agencies didn’t like it and neither did CBS. But he pitched it to NBC and went on to be their president twice in his career.

Pat, who was Signourney Weaver’s dad, passed away in 2003. In his autobiography, he said, “The future of communications is so fascinating, I wish I had another lifetime to help in realizing its potential.”

So do we. We’re still in it, Pat.  

TV spots won’t go away any time soon, even though consumers have a two-way device in their hand minimally four hours a day. TV is still getting half the budget for most brands and it delivers the least engagement for the money, no matter what broadcast sales people are programmed to say. 

Pat saw the tail end of dial-up but he missed the birth of social media and consumers making their own content as a status building tool.

No one wants to be the last one at the party. 

Pat would be the first to say, it’s time to move on.

We took this to heart and did a series of new research studies on how consumers connect for our new book, Join The Brand.

We know consumers are busy marketing themselves and now have less than eight seconds to respond or react to a message. No one wakes up every morning deciding to join a brand.

Yet, there are brands who seem to be above the fray and attract dedicated fans who are so enthusiastic, they become superfans. We took a look at them to see what we could learn from their journeys. 

We found three critical steps to aligning with consumers’ hearts: 

1)    Igniting the Fire

        Developing brand stories that engage on a genuine level.

2)    Fueling the Flame

        Uniting fans with programming that feels naturally compelling and inclusive.

3)    Passing the Torch

        Enlisting the best fans to tell your story.

We conducted six new studies to help us share best practices. We’re introducing a two-way brief, to help marketers think about personal conversations vs weapons of mass persuasion.

Mr. Weaver, the evolution was televised, thanks to you. 

Let’s fast forward to the future.


Excerpt from Join The Brand, by Norty Cohen, Jillian Flores and Meggie Petersen. Available October 1 on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Hudson News and select independent book sellers.


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