Discovery Q&A, Ad Topper Abruzzese Offers His Take

A bit of business news this morning to go with your coffee.

Anyone who has worked with Discovery President of Ad Sales, Joe Abruzzese, will agree that his “the best salesman in the business” is a title rightly deserved. He is known for his sharp business acumen and his religious focus on getting things done right. I’ve had some pretty good (and funny) experiences presenting him creative for Upfronts/Overviews through the years.

The affable Abruzzese said he’s “having too much fun” to retire. And while the economy has been turbulent, these have been steady — if not heady — times at Discovery.

In an interview released today, Abruzzese discusses the migration of rating points from broadcasting to cable, the strength of Discovery’s brands, Planet Green and OWN: The Oprah Winfrey Network.

A few excerpts:

MDN: You’ve been through recessions in 1991 and 2001 — how does this one compare?

Abruzzese: This seems a lot worse because you didn’t have the General Motors problem — the bailouts — before. It was just a tough economy.

MDN: There is some belief that Planet Green hasn’t quite had the success the company was hoping for? What do you attribute that to? Are there a finite amount of advertisers who have “green” creative and a desire to spend behind it?

Abruzzese: We’ve done quite well versus what we had there before (Discovery Home Channel). We’ve tripled the sales. Unfortunately, we needed a lot more than that (to meet projections).

What I think has happened is in this environment, green is probably not in the forefront. It’s more survival for clients, but I think we need to give it some time.

MDN: What will be the principal message you hope the ad community will take away from the presentation on Thursday heading into the upfront?

Abruzzese: You’ll see all our brands are strong — that we’ve shown competitive growth in ratings and the future actually looks brighter because of the new shows we’re launching next year.

Clients are buying futures. They’re buying September to September. They’re buying in some cases 16 months ahead. Where are you going to place your business? Someplace that you feel secure with, where you know the environment is going to be strong.

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