Upfront Season: DeadLizard’s Role

February 9, 2024

Upfront season has a big impact in media and advertising. And, while DeadLizard serves the creative needs of our media clients all year round, the upfront sales cycle is a critical time for networks that has a huge impact on every part of their business. Ensuring effective upfronts has been a major part of our business for decades. So let's do a dive into the upfronts and what we do.

What Exactly are Upfronts?

Upfront season is when networks – primarily legacy TV networks – secure a significant portion of their ad inventory for the upcoming year by presenting compelling pitches to advertisers to get commitments early on. During this unique Q1-Q2 sales window, networks aim to sell about 80% to 85% of their ad inventory for the upcoming calendar year (hence, the term "upfront"). This early commitment helps networks plan their content and budget for the year. The upfront has a lesser known, but critical, follow-up sales cycle that traditionally takes place in Q3. Known as Scatter, it focuses on unsold inventory and fine-tuning ad placements based on the year's performance.

What Role Does DeadLizard Play During Upfront Season?

DeadLizard offers a wide spectrum of services depending on the client and how we interface with them. For smaller networks, we provide our upfront clients with presentation systems, branded premiums and support collateral they can use during their upfront sales cycle. For larger clients with a portfolio of networks, we take a more holistic approach that integrates all their brands and often involves event GFX/signage support and digital campaigns. In both cases, a lot of this creative output is also used throughout the year in other branded communications, campaigns and future sales cycles.

From the most basic point of view, upfronts are simply high-stakes sales pitches. However, they're also intrinsic to the entertainment industry and are often packaged with big events and big name attendees. As such, creative materials – from digital banner ads, to animated venue signage to national print campaigns – all need to look the part. Our job is to incorporate engaging elements such as motion graphics, sizzle reels and other multimedia components so that these presentations can serve as powerful, branded tools for networks to differentiate themselves and attract advertisers. For a portfolio of networks, we develop overarching brand upfront presentations and create templates for individual networks within the portfolio to ensure a cohesive strategy while allowing flexibility for each network to tailor their pitches.

In addition to providing collateral, consultancy and creative support, we also support event production, which involves remote or on-site assistance with graphics, video work and 3D elements for in-person events hosted by networks like Disney, WEtv and The Weather Channel. The best event won’t mean much if no one knows about it, so we round things out with promotional and outreach support. We partner with our clients to create targeted traditional print campaigns, from trade pubs to billboards. We also offer digital and e-marketing support, including national digital campaigns, email campaigns as well as branded premium gifts and packaging.

What's the DeadLizard Difference?

Upfronts are a core part of what we do. Unlike a lot of larger agencies, we can be fast and efficient when it comes to the shifting needs of a network scrambling to develop a successful upfront. We have the artistic vision, creative skills and experience needed to execute big ideas with the nimbleness that an evolving media landscape requires. We've had to adapt to changes in the industry on the fly – Covid, for example, has permanently changed how upfronts work – and have been successful at making beautiful on-brand and on-message materials that move the needle for our partners in the always-changing world of media and ad sales.

Want to know more? We’d love to talk! Contact us here.