|Posted by MissNanse-SSI on May 20, 2011 at 11:45 PM|
Today I was lucky enough to interview Maree Blackston who put together the May 17th Soap Protest Rally against ABC in New York City. This rally took place during ABC's upfront meetings with the advertisers who will sponsor their fal line-up including "The Chew" which will take the place of our beloved 'All My Children' and "Revolution" which is slated to replace our one and only New York soap and the best of ABC's line-up in my opinion, 'One Life To Live'. I will not describe these shows since I will not give ABC free advertisement and since they count even the negative remarks as interest in these shows they will not get it here.
I will also attach the You Tube video from We Love Soaps 'Roger Newcomb' who attended and spoke with Ilene Kristen(Roxy,OLTL) and Colleen Zenk(Barbara, ATWT) and one of our own Examiner's Mimi Torchin. Thank You Roger for this wonderful look into the rally for those of us who could not be there.
Here in Maree's own words are the answers to the many questions we are all very concerned about.
Examiner: In your opinion how did it go?
Maree: The Rally went very well. We had specific objectives in trying to reach advertisers with a message specifically targeted to them, and we were able to deliver that message directly into their hands in person. Examiner: How many supporters were there?Maree: We collected 51 names on the Rally Sign-In sheet. Many people came and went throughout the course of the Rally. It was the middle of the workday, and some had to return to work. Also, the weather was windy and rainy, so that may have had an impact on the numbers. Examiner: Did the advertisers acknowledge the soap fans in anyway?
Maree: On their way into the Lincoln Center advertisers heard the chants and saw the protesters with their signs. We had a protest permit which permitted amplified sound, and with a bull-horn, protesters were able to rather loudly express sentiments. The protesters had a barricaded area across the street from the Lincoln Center, but the NYPD permitted 1 protester to cross over to the Lincoln Center entrance, and they were able to put flyers directly into advertisers' and media buyers' hands as they entered to hear ABC's presentation. Protester Tammy Kreiss was assigned to pass flyers to the advertisers. She spoke with the advertisers & told us the advertisers were indeed receptive to our flyers, and she actually asked & received numbers from the various advertisers to call them re: ABC. On their way out of the Upfront Meeting, some advertisers were taking pictures of the protesters. Advertisers saw energetic, dedicated folks standing in the wind and rain for hours in the middle of a workday; advertisers saw the face of commitment representing several million soap fans.
Examiner: Were there union members picketing there also?Maree: Yes, there were 3 or 4 NABET union members who protested with us. Shortly after the cancellations, Soap Fans United contacted all of the various unions involved in the production of One Life To Live and All My Children. We wanted to convey to them our concern about the loss of their jobs, and we invited them to stand with soap fans to fight ABC's decision. About a week before the Rally, we contacted all the New York Unions involved again and invited them to participate with us in the Upfront Rally. The Executive Director of the WGA-East indicated in an interview he had passed the invitation to the Rally on to their members, but I don't believe any of them actually attended the Rally. We have not heard from AFTRA or IATSE. Examiner: Were there any soap actors, writers, crew etc. there?
Maree: Yes, we were fortunate to have with us Emmy Nominee Colleen Zenk from As The World Turns, Ilene Kristen from One Life to Live, and Founding Editor of Soap Opera Weekly, Mimi Torchin. We were also joined by R&B artist Alura who sang her new original song, "We Won't Let Our Soaps Die" as the advertisers exited the Lincoln Center.
Examiner: How about radio or television coverage?
Maree: Yes we are very happy for both the mainstream & soap press coverage we received. CBC (Canadian Broadcast Corporation) sent a professional cameraman/producer to film our rally. Colleen Zenk was gracious enough to be interviewed by the CBC. Meg James, Staff Writer in the Business Section of the Los Angeles Times interviewed both Colleen Zenk & Ilene Kristen, along with fans who came to the rally. Tim Molloy from TheWrap.com interviewed me and a fellow protestor who came all the way from the Carolinas. (TheWrap.com is like deadline.com and is owned by Fox) Peggy Healey from the Wendy Williams show interviewed Ilene Kristen & depth and filmed the rally. Sandra Gonzalez from Entertainment Weekly showed up to write an article for ew.com Marisa Guthrie from The Hollywood Reporter reported on the protest but can't confirm whether she was on site or got their info from other sources. They did have access to the talking points flyer we made to target the advertisers. Roger Newcomb from welovesoaps.net came with his photographer Kevin to cover the event. He interviewed many protestors, CZ, IK & former Soap Opera Weekly Editor-in-Chief and writer, Mimi Torchin. Nelson Branco from TVGuide.ca was to be interviewed by the CBC in Toronto re: our rally. They may have used our rally footage with his interview Robin Platzer from Twin Images (photographers to the stars who shoot for SOD/SOW/SID showed up and took plenty of photos: here's the link, please feel free to look, but they are copyrighted: http://platzer-twinimages.photoshelter.com/gallery/ABC-Soap-Fans-protesting-May-17-2011/G0000YKU0K0Ccewg Advertisement Susan F. Coflin (NYC Freelance soap photog) also showed up as well.
Examiner: How do you feel it impacted ABC and their sponsors?
Maree: Well, ABC has the dubious distinction of being the only network attracting protesters at their upfront meeting. Also, I've noticed in much of the media covering the ABC Upfront, the Soap Rally has been mentioned. I'm sure ABC and advertisers have noticed the coverage surrounding the protest, including The Hollywood Reporter headline proclaiming ABC's daytime replacement shows "glorified infomercials" not befitting a major network. Soap fans have taken a little of the spotlight off ABC at their own critically important upfront meeting. Apparently, the protest had an impact on ABC because they certainly tried to have the protest disbanded. According to one NYPD officer, the police had been contacted several times by organizer's of ABC's upfront event at Lincoln Center asking whether the protest was legal. Soap Fans United's protest permit was checked at least twice during the Rally by different NYPD officers. The officers' found our permit in order. The $45 Protest Permit was well worth the time and money spent to obtain it. ABC even pulled our "Save Our Soaps" T-shirt image with cafepress.com claiming infringement. In our design, we were very careful not to use the ABC font or logo; we used just a simple A B C. The shirts were available for a week before there was any reaction, but the day after a photo surfaced of one of our organizers, Shawn Brady wearing an SOS T-shirt in a photo with Kim Zimmer, the copyright infringement was claimed by ABC and our images pulled from Cafe Press. I suppose if Disney can trademark "Seal Team 6;" they think they can own the Alphabet as well. While exiting the Lincoln Center, ABC Daytime President Brian Frons felt a little impact when he walked past protesters and was publicly boo'd. Doubtless, some of the advertisers nearby noticed Mr. Frons' unpopularity. Of course, Mr. Frons just smirked and waved at the protesters. The impact on the advertisers is more difficult to measure at this juncture. We will know more in the coming weeks as we see how the upfront ad dollars are actually allocated. That's a process that begins now, but unfolds over the course of a few weeks. We urge advertisers to consider carefully whether ABC/Disney’s strategy will increase their company’s revenue or create consumer loyalty toward their products. We hope advertisers will recognize ABC is behind the curve with their move to reality programming in a market already over-saturated with “life-style” shows. We urge advertisers to expand their advertising focus beyond the 18-49 demographic. ABC has used this “key” demographic to justify the cancellations of soaps and reprogramming of their line-up. We want advertisers to consider current economic conditions, and use the size and buying power of the Baby Boomer generation to reinvigorate, stale advertising concepts. We asked advertisers to demonstrate support for the soap genre and their products' consumers by advertising only during All My Children, One Life to Live and General Hospital and declining advertisement on The Chew or The Revolution. In short, we asked advertisers to join with Hoover in pulling ads and standing proud with soap fans. We hope other advertisers will see Hoover's loyalty to scripted daytime drama is being richly rewarded in terms of social media chatter, mainstream publicity, and doubtless increased sales. Following the actual upfront presentations, advertisers and media buyers begin immediately placing ads with networks for the next year. Advertisers and media buyers will allocate much of the expected $9 Billion Dollar annual advertising purse among the various networks over the next two to four weeks. These next couple weeks are critical for soap fans to make their case to advertisers before they allocate ad dollars for the coming year. If advertisers balk at advertising on the replacement shows, or if ABC's advertising revenue drops, ABC 30% production cost savings for the soap-replacement shows can quickly turn into a net loss. Financial consequences are the only thing ABC/Disney understands at this point, so that's where soap fans have to make impact. That's why it has been important for soap fans to target both daytime and primetime. If we can threaten ABC's primetime ad revenue, then we definitely have ABC's attention, and they may decide it financially efficacious to give soap fans what they want, rather than risk further damage to their ratings and ad revenue. If soap fans can strike some lethal blows over the next few weeks, there is a chance ABC could realize the error of their ways, and keep our soaps in production. While ABC has contracted and committed to produce The Chew and The Revolution, nothing in those contracts defines when or where those shows have to be aired. ABC could still produce those shows and syndicate them to another network or even use one of them as an Oprah-replacement.On behalf of Soap Fans United, I would like to sincerely thank each of the protesters, all of the media, Colleen Zenk, Ilene Kristen, Mimi Torchin, , the NYPD, and the thousands of people who tweeted and face-booked information out about the Rally. I would like to especially thank the following: Shawn Brady, Jen Snelling, Kim Watson, Dana Meyer, Cheryl Hutton, Dottie, Dan Malave, and Sophie. These folks are amazing in every way.
Thank You so much Maree and all who participated in this huge event. You all represented millions of soap fans who could not be there. Our hearts and love were with you all and will always be until the last soap airs. ABC cannot take our soaps and our favorite characters from us. We have our memories and some very smart and wonderful people who have chronicaled every minute of the soaps and who will share them with us as many have done with our other lost soaps.
Please do not think I am giving up because I know there is a way out there to save our soaps and it will happen if we all believe and support those who are trying to make it happen. Here is one that Maree is heavily involved in, a stupendous "Soap Fans United" check it out.
Thanks also to Roger Newcomb from 'We Love Soaps' another wonderful place to go to learn all of the happenings involving soaps and the actors we love.
Continue reading on Examiner.com: An Interview with Maree Blackston organizer of the Soap Rally in NYC. - New York Soap Opera | Examiner.com