ANA’s Family-Friendly Comedy Writer Campaign

The ANA Alliance for Family Entertainment, a collective group of advertisers and marketers linked to the US-based Association of National Advertisers, has found the winner of its family-friendly entertainment contest.


Its campaign search for America’s Newest Comedy Writer script submissions began on 5 October and finished on 28 October and in late November the winner was announced as 27-year-old writer Megan Angelo.


Angelo’s winning entry was ‘O’Connell for Congress’ to the contest: a sitcom script that follows a family whose father, after failing in business, runs for political office.


The contest was judged by a panel including Hollywood executive John Wells. Having been selected by the group, Wells will mentor Angelo and help her script get developed into a pilot.


The ANA was searching for the freshest take on what’s real—and really funny—about the modern family in its first annual Search for America’s Newest Comedy Writer. It’s a coast-to-coast contest saw new writers submit their original, half-hour comedy format script for a chance to win$5,000.


The winner also receives creative guidance and direct input from acclaimed producer/director/writer John Wells, executive producer of the television series ER, Third Watch, The West Wing, Shameless and Southland.


“Marketers of family brands are often stymied in finding shows to support that offer smart, sophisticated takes on family life that everybody can watch and enjoy,” says Bob Liodice, president and CEO of the ANA. “So our determination to find and help fund the production of promising family scripts and encourage emerging young talent to write stories about modern family life is good for business.”


“We’re really proud of our track record in discovering and supporting good family storytelling,” adds Michael Palmer, ANA executive vice president, AFE member relations. “But the American family never stops changing and so we never stop looking for the next great story and the next great storyteller. The Search for America’s Newest Comedy Writer will help us do just that.”


The ANA Alliance for Family Entertainment, comprised of 34 major marketers including Campbell Soup, General Mills, Johnson & Johnson, Kraft Foods, Mars, McDonald’s, Procter & Gamble, Verizon and Walmart Stores, is pushing to get more programming in the prime time line-up that parents and kids can watch together.


The alliance has already supported more than 20 shows on six networks, according to The New York Times, including hits like Chuck, Friday Night Lights, Ugly Betty, and Gilmore Girls. According to its website, the ANAAFA ‘helped fund pilots, gave scholarships to talented young students, and worked with networks and content creators to develop programming’.




Buzz words such as ‘family friendly’ and ‘family values’ are established and widely understood terms in American media culture,, this kind of AFA support aims to demonstrate that the industry itself is championing good taste and communal values.


This is the kind of feel-good story that the much criticised US media industry needs to generate positive PR and demonstrate both its commitment to and understanding of the general viewing public.


In part, the contest and the alliance are ways to push against fragmenting audiences. In the networks’ war for ratings, often reality programming, or drama, wins audiences. But the audiences aren’t from the entire family, they’re just the parents.


It’s unclear how far the brands’ commitment to the content of the show reaches to the commitment to buying the ad inventory around it, should it reach prime time, but it’s an interesting way to promote the style of programming the marketers prefer.


Obviously branded content has matured significantly since the earliest soap operas and brand-sponsored broadcast shows. With brands as content creators, though, it may prove that O’Connell for Congress lives on.








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