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With Maddow, Olbermann in Lead, MSNBC Brands Itself as Progressive Antidote to Fox

MSNBC, which has recently been the favorite news channel of cable-loving liberals thanks to Rachel Maddow and Keith Olbermann’s nightly shows, is finally getting to declare itself. With a new slogan, “Lean Forward,” and new promotional videos directed by Spike Lee, the once-marginalized news network is branding itself as the spot for progressive, forward-thinking viewers. And by extension it’s branding its competition--Fox News--as being left in the dust, looking backwards. With MSNBC finally vaulting past CNN in key timeslots, but public awareness of the brand lagging behind its rivals, the new campaign is a “coming-out of sorts,” the New York Times’ Brian Stelter writes. This new direction follows the example of Fox News, its ideological competition, but also other cable channels like HBO which market to a specific niche. MSNBC’s niche began growing with viewers tuning in to hear discontent from Olbermann and Chris Matthews over the war in Iraq, and solidified when Maddow, a popular guest on the channel, got her own show. “It’s an umbrella that’s pretty wide, but that does have a progressive sensibility,” Phil Griffin, the president of MSNBC told the Times of his audience. “We’re confident. We’re strong. Let’s not live in the past, let’s not live by fear.” In addition to Maddow and Olbermann, MSNBC hosts Ed Schultz and Lawrence O’Donnell round up the progressive-friendly lineup, and even more conservative MSNBC anchors like Matthews and Joe Scarborough have a contrarian tone. In addition to the new TV ads which will run on other NBC Universal stations, the network will run a print campaign for buses, kiosks, and both web and online publications targeted towards potential viewers. Read the full story here.
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