September 3, 2021
Warner’s pay-TV network Turner Classic Movies (TCM) is unveiling a new logo, colorful on-air promos, new sets for Ben Mankiewicz and other hosts, new openings for shows including “The Essentials” and “Noir Alley,” and new branding that explores the interplay between past and present cinema. The aesthetics update will not change the vintage movie collection but intends to “help the cable channel stay relevant and reach a wider audience.” TCM executives are also weighing the future of a linear cable channel in a growing streaming media ecosystem.
The New York Times reports that TCM, a property of WarnerMedia, is looking at how to contribute to its parent company’s HBO Max streaming service — but without alienating its core audience or losing its identity. Mankiewicz warned that, “I want to make it so that fans will understand that what they care about is not changing … but they are still going to have a small heart attack.”
According to TCM general manager Pola Changnon, “she and her colleagues had been contemplating a refresh of the channel for several months.” Acknowledging the core audience that “really just wants their Doris Day movies,” she noted that, “there are folks who are more adventurous, who want to learn and engage in a different way.”
To draw in that audience, TCM added “Reframed,” a series that reexamines classic movies including “The Jazz Singer,” “Gone with the Wind” and others, “which have been criticized for their outdated treatments of race, gender and sexuality.” “We don’t want to cancel these films,” explained Changnon. “We’d rather engage in conversation around them.”
The new logo “features a bright palette meant to evoke the Technicolor logo,” as well as a new font and an animated letter C that transforms into a “shape that resembles a camera lens or film running through a projector.” The new ad campaign, with the tagline. “Where Then Meets Now,” is intended to please cinephiles “while extending an invitation to neophytes.”
At Warner Bros.’ Global Kids, Young Adults and Classics division, chief marketing officer Tricia Melton said that TCM is distinguished by bringing curation and context to its film library, something that still matters. But, she added, “you don’t want a brand to ever be stagnant.” “We have to move with culture, too,” she said.
NYT notes that, “that cultural shift has been accelerated by the emergence of HBO Max, which had its debut in May 2020 and has since become a crucial staging ground for WarnerMedia’s movies and TV programs.”
According to Global Kids, Young Adults and Classics president Tom Ascheim, “it was simply a reality of the current media environment that TCM would have to develop a streaming presence.”
He pointed out that this year’s TCM Classic Film Festival was “a virtual event taking place entirely on TCM and HBO Max” — and “proof that the two platforms can coexist and complement each other.” But Ascheim added that “expanding the channel’s streaming presence was not a sign that TCM was giving up on traditional cable TV or its own underlying values.”