Lynn Smith published her article in today's Los Angeles Times about PBS''s attempt to reach younger viewers by re-branding Masterpiece Theatre. An excerpt:
"What we wanted to know was why aren't more people watching it and what would it take to attract a younger audience?" said Bob Knapp, president of Neubrand, a marketing and brand consultant. Viewers had told researchers they perceived the series as a "dusty jewel that was hard to find in the PBS crown," Eaton said. They wanted to know whether to expect "Jane Eyre" or Jane Tennison, "Bleak House" or "White Teeth"?You can read Smith's full article on the LA Times website.
The result was a compromise between changing everything or changing nothing, Knapp said, the literary equivalent of "brand new look, same great taste."
However, one informed observer suggested that PBS, by trading off the halo effect of the "Masterpiece" name may actually cheapen the brand by diluting it like Cherry Coke and Vanilla Coke. Laurence Jarvik, author of "Masterpiece Theatre and the Politics of Quality," said that under the original Mobil Oil sponsorship, the series preserved its brand integrity because its executives were driven as much or more by personal passion than market research. "What was good about it is that you knew what you were getting: A slice of British costume drama," he said.