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Volume 27 No. 28
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ViacomCBS Exec Jacqueline Parkes On Reaching Young Demographics

Being able to reach and engage with younger viewers is top of mind for most networks. And finding innovative to ways to reach these viewers without live, in-person events is at the core of what ViacomCBS Entertainment & Youth Group CMO & Exec VP/Digital Studios Jacqueline Parkes has been focusing on. Parkes, who joined ViacomCBS in '16, discussed her role overseeing MTV, Comedy Central, Pop TV and VH1 while speaking at the Intersport Brand Innovation Summit. “The biggest thing that I have learned in my tenure is that 18 to 34s are everywhere, they're not in one specific place,” said Parkes. “Learning how to leverage information and content in a way that uniquely connects to them, has been absolutely paramount to our success.” Parkes notes that brands remain paramount when trying to develop an audience. She said, “If you have a strong brand, it's a signal post to consumers to give you consideration.” Parkes added, “There is no cookie cutter approach to taking that content and putting it on each platform, you need to really customize the content for the platform and for the consumers that you're reaching out to.” Below are more highlights from the conversation with Parkes:

*On whether she has seen behavioral changes in the way young people are engaging with content since the pandemic: “We are seeing more binging. We are seeing increased consumption on all platforms. We are up double digits on linear.”

*On holding events such as the Video Music Awards without a live audience: “They wanted the spectacle of a live performance, they wanted to hear the speeches, they wanted the real feeling of it being live. So, the team did an exceptional job of creating spectacle and performances that didn't feel like they were confined by the Zoom world that we live in today.”

*On being able to keep up with the current trends: “I look at data and insights. I'm also active on social media. I like to see what's going on. I like to see how fans are engaging with our content, not just in the report the day after. I'm very much a part of it. Live streaming, live tweeting, wanting to see what fans are saying in the moment. That enables me to stay on top of it.”

*On the biggest mistake brands make in trying to reach a young, broad audience: “They try to be something they're not, and this is a generation that sniffs out authenticity and if you're not authentic, they sniff it out quickly.”

*On how a sports property that is trending older in their demographic could reach a younger audience: “Look at your IP, look at the connectedness that you have with that IP in a younger generation and bring it to life in new and different ways. Stay away from the word cool, don't try to be cool, stay true to who you are.”