HRTS Member Profile: Rick Haskins
Rick Haskins is Executive Vice President, Marketing and Brand Strategy, The CW. I recently had a chance to interview Rick to discuss Twitter, Gossip Girl, and the enduring appeal of vampires.
Q: Can you tell us about your background and what made you want to work in entertainment?
-I started my career at Procter & Gamble, which, to be honest, was an incredible learning experience. However, I was headquartered in Cincinnati, which I always felt had charisma bypass surgery. So after serving my time in middle America, I looked west to the sunny and far more creative territory known as Los Angeles.
Q: How has The CW’s brand evolved since the network’s inception?
-with each season that passes, our brand has evolved as we constantly are learning more and more about our target female audience, and we find programming that truly connects and resonates with them. I think the defining moment from a brand perspective was the Gossip Girl OMFG campaign which really encapsulated our identity and cemented who and what we are in the minds of our viewers.
Q: In what ways do you use Twitter, Facebook and mobile apps to engage with your youthful demographic?
-we’ve been using Twitter and Facebook for a long, long time. Just like our audience, we’ve been early adopters of new interactive technology and technologies like these. In fact, we were on Twitter when Gossip Girl launched, and since so few people used it at the time, we were basically tweeting to ourselves.
Today, however, I don’t think we could live without Twitter or Facebook. Our audience spends a considerable amount of time on these social networking sites, so this is where we can connect with them, reach them with our messages and also drive a substantial amount of traffic to www.cwtv.com.
And as far as mobile apps go, they’re still relatively new but are becoming more and more important part of our portfolio of marketing tools.
Q: What makes “Gossip Girl” such an iconic brand?
-it’s really the first show born of the digital age that spoke to the audience in the same way that they speak to each other. It’s that attitude and relatability that really enabled us to connect with the viewers.
From a creative standpoint, Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage have created this incredibly addictive environment with these fascinating characters who do and say things you’ve always wanted to, but really didn’t have the guts or the money to do.
Q: From a marketing perspective, what is the appeal of vampires?
-vampires have always been incredibly romantic characters throughout classical and modern literature, film and television. I think it fulfills the fantasy of eternal love in a sexy but very safe way because you know, ultimately, they’re not real.
One of the great things about vampires is that they’re an incredibly popular genre with a massive fanbase, that with an amazing product like The Vampire Diaries, it’s an easy sell to those fans.
Q: How do you see things changing over the next few years?
-so hard to say, but one thing is for sure, the changes will come at a faster clip. So it’s imperative for all of us to change with the viewers and with new technology. Not to be cliché, but those of us who innovate are the ones who will be rewarded in the future. We adopted Twitter at its infancy during the Gossip Girl launch, and we’ll continue to seek out new and different avenues to connect with our viewers.