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Upfronts 2018: Fox ad chief: Reduction plans 'more noticeable' than other nets

Pointing to a number of ad format innovations, Joe Marchese, president of advertising revenue, Fox Networks Group, told media buyers at the company’s upfront presentation that the plan is to aim at better connecting brands to content.

Marchese said 21st Century Fox Inc. wants to bring brands "closer to the drama, closer to the laughter, closer to the competition" with JAZ pods, featuring just the "a" and "z" positions, the first and last units in 60-second commercial breaks.

Rather than being one of 10 spots, the ad is now one of two and "more memorable," Marchese said, citing higher engagement levels and overall brand lift tied to less cluttered ad environments.

The JAZ pods will be available across FOX (US)'s Sunday night lineup, as well as within certain FOX Sports and National Geographic fare. Marchese also told buyers at the May 14 event at New York’s Beacon Theater that the 60-second breaks will be the only format available within FX Network (US)'s new show "The Weekly," produced with "The New York Times."

The use of JAZ pods will reduce the total number of ads by more than 60%, he said.

Marchese also discussed the deployment of six-second ads, aimed at revamping the industry’s long-standing dedication to 30-second spots, which bore fruit for T-Mobile hurricane relief campaign efforts during last year’s World Series, won by the Houston Astros, whose hometown was devastated by the weather. Marchese said T-Mobile has upped its budget for socially conscious initiatives to 30% of its budget from 5% of marketing spend in 2017.

Six-second spots will again be part of FOX’s ad arsenal, which will also include "story stretches" that will play off of the programmer’s intellectual property, sponsorable streaming messages and "talent curated commercials."

Additionally, Marchese said the company is moving sports promos in the middle of pods, so brands' commercial messages can touch the programming.

FOX’s initiative will be "more noticeable" than other networks' ad reduction plans, he added.

FOX also wants media buyers to notice that with the addition of the "Thursday Night Football" package to its lineup — which also includes Sunday afternoon NFL games, collegiate gridiron action on Saturdays, and Major League Baseball’s postseason capped by the World Series — 82% of the broadcast network’s fall viewing will occur live, more than any of its competitors.