Tuesday, September 05, 2006

"The business model that sustained us for decades is no longer sufficient to sustain profitability" William Clay Ford Jr.

Quotation from Mr. Ford's email to the troops last week. Good to see a chief executive face reality - as it is, not as it was, nor as he wishes it to be. That's the first important step. The next is to say "I don't know." Then take a page from Drucker and ask "what needs to be done?" and get creative collaboration going. As Gary Hamel says "All that matters is whether you care enough to start from where you are." Recruiting a new chief executive from Boeing - smart move. He has nothing to unlearn about the car business.

Congrats to Jeff Haley, new CEO of RAB. Exactly the kind of executive needed to lead the RAB's charge into the 21st century! Kudos, cheers and much appreciation to John Dille, Weezie Kramer, Scott Herman, Bud Walters, Stu Olds, Peter Smyth and David Kennedy for doing the unconventional thing, the right thing for the RAB. Word from my colleagues at Time Warner is all good. Another case of nothing to unlearn - excellent move.

Tom Freston steps down. Not that many years ago the VMA broadcast brought in ten million viewers, this year they pulled about half of that. Another Sumner move that seems more about stock price and street confidence than other performance measures. Tom is a good man. During his watch a small cable operation grew into a brand of international renown. Should he chose to do so more exciting adventures are in store - stay tuned.

Katie Couric debut - B

First nighter does a good job. New set, new crew (on and off the new set), new job and add to that the expectations - not the least of which being those of the critics and you have to say Katie done good tonight. Nervous, of course and that's a good thing in this case. The woman cares and it shows. From Walter's opening vo and the somewhat disappointing new score (an echo of a stronger original) the show moved well. Solid direction. Warm, crisp graphics package. Some short takes...

Two shot with Friedman was very good. Katie's closer "what can be done?" while an excellent question is placed wrong. I'm certain Friedman has a really good half-hour answer. But credit to Katie...for intent. There may be a better way to handle this. Online perhaps? Leave the piece with a call to action. "You'll find more of our conversation with Thomas Friedman including his views on what can be done, at cbsnews.com"

Super graphics on the desk? Too smart by half.

Throw & Catch: Thank you on the catch is fine, no need to add "so much"

Looking comfortable, confident but - old habit of looking down, averting her eyes and head after package throws - she'll fix it. Overall her look and tone...elegant and warm. Good friendly vibe.

Anthony Mason's package was good but the illustration he used about a one day yield of production "you could drive 55 million miles" is poor writing and difficult for the viewer to comprehend much less imagine. Better metaphor needed.

Use of the stacked b&w file images of Uncle Joe and Adolph competing along side the squeeze shot of Bush was too much. The reader plus the Bush audio/video was enough. Tried too hard on this one.

The Hartman kicker was actually good. A pleasant departure from his nuns on rollerblades that sell baked goods and coffee drinks to grid locked commuters stuff. The bump in graphic with "hit music" rip worked fine without the "DJ backsell" reference leading the package. Would actually have worked better inside as a bump out.

Good use of video on the sign-off pitch, some 50+ yo ND probably grabbed his chest when Knight and Burgundy ran ON HIS 630 SHOW. The humanity. That is exactly the soft edge needed to help create contrast. Finally, someone on a 630 show dares to be a wee bit playful. Nothing wrong with that. Brian Williams take note, it's ok, really. Good drive to the web too. Engage the audience - perfect.

Note to graphics - tight work, however - when you have a talent blessed with such a great smile you do not use the headshot without that smile - please lose the "there's trouble here, my goldfish died" headshot on the web banner, way too serious. Should have ended the show with a graphic about tomorrow nights exclusive with Bush. You buried the same leed on the website.

Word: Vocab web feature cool idea. Using the G word all by itself sent your message. Could have left the reference to a male body part where it belongs...a joke among adults in the newsroom not on the web where children will find it. This falls under the Katie Couric as role model - get it. First woman solo anchor. Perk is cool, snark is not, take the high road. While I'm at it here are some words submitted for your approval. Alacrity, elan, and yare.

Overall - good show! Congrats to Katie and the CBS gang. (I would have made this shorter but I didn't have the time).