Take a look at some of the key shows on CNN and one cannot but notice the network’s recent adoption of an explicit “House of Brands” strategy in an effort to better wage the battle for “viewer eyeballs”. The collage below shows some of CNN’s major shows and their distinct “brands” (e.g. AC360, Fareed Zakaria GPS, John King’s State of the Union, etc.).
By expanding away from the core umbrella “CNN” brand to a portfolio of brands for individual “products”, CNN is trying to form deeper association and identification with its viewers through a sub-segmentation approach. By forming show-specific brands (represented by a distinct anchor along with a catchy tagline reflecting the show’s underlying theme), CNN has increased flexibility to target and reach sub segments of the viewer pool by enabling a more tailored messaging and content theme. In effect, each show (or brand) has the ability to fight its own battle against other networks’ shows targeting the same viewer sub-segments. For example:
– Wolf Blitzer (Tagline: Situation Room – Target viewers who want to get the latest critical and heated news of the day)
– Campbell Brown (Tagline: No Bias, No Bull – Target viewers with the differentiated message that the show is all about keeping the government and businesses straight by calling out mis-information and broken promises)
– Fareed Zakaria (Tagline: GPS or Global Public Square – Target wonky viewers interested in foreign policy and globalization issues)
Although an effective strategy, the “House of Brands” focus could also backfire in the long run: in particular it can potentially weaken the mothership “CNN” brand in the minds of viewers. In addition, the adopted strategy will continue to strenghen the “cult of personality” in U.S media and shift market power away from the network to the individual anchors.