via press release:


Spike Lee Directed Documentary-Style Ads Debut Today

NEW YORK – April 25, 2011 – The second round of MSNBC’s “Lean Forward” campaign launches today, with brand new spots directed by Spike Lee, starring the network’s four primetime hosts – Chris Matthews, Lawrence O’Donnell, Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz.

In addition to noted filmmaker Spike Lee, MSNBC enlisted Oscar-nominated Matthew Libatique from the film ‘Black Swan’ to serve as director of photography for the campaign along with the ad agency Mono. The ads were all shot completely unscripted, in iconic locations throughout the country. The “Lean Forward” ads will run begin running today on MSNBC and on

The ads will also run in cinemas across the country during the peak summer movie season and in cross-channel platforms across NBC Universal. The video spots will also be seen across broadband video players across targeted digital sites. Separate print and digital ads will also run in major publications. In addition, MSNBC will continue to roll out an array of new “Lean Forward” ads that will air over the next few months.

“These ads are unlike anything else. They are mini-documentaries that express the passion of our primetime hosts. You’re able to truly learn what drives them and why their audience tunes in to watch their shows,” said Phil Griffin, President of MSNBC.

Part two of the “Lean Forward” campaign debuts in conjunction with the continued success MSNBC has experienced this year. In the first quarter of 2011, MSNBC beat CNN in primetime, finishing well ahead of the formerly dominant news network for the 6th consecutive quarter. MSNBC also continues to top CNN in the mornings as well, with “Morning Joe” beating “American Morning” for the fifth consecutive quarter. MSNBC topped CNN at 7, 8, 9 and 10 p.m. in total viewers in 1Q11. MSNBC also delivered its best total day quarterly performance in two years.

“Our viewers are looking for champions of progress. They respect, share and seek out our host’s perspective on the issues facing America. This campaign brings our hosts out from behind their desks, showcasing a more personal and authentic view,” said Sharon Otterman, Chief Marketing Officer and Vice President of MSNBC.

The new round of MSNBC’s “Lean Forward” ads featuring primetime hosts Chris Matthews, Lawrence O’Donnell, Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz that will begin to debut today showcase the network’s primetime hosts in the following elements:

  • MSNBC’s Chris Matthews – Spike Lee shot Matthews in Washington D.C, where he candidly discussed the civil discourse in the upcoming 2012 election
  • MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell – Spike Lee shot O’Donnell in New York City, where he opined on the pressing issues of immigration and health care
  • MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow – Spike Lee shot Maddow at the Hoover Dam, where she discussed the importance of having a renewed national focus on infrastructure
  • MSNBC’s Ed Schultz – Spike Lee shot Schultz in his hometown of Norfolk, VA, where he spoke about the problems facing the middle class and the imperative need to create jobs

Click on Lean Forward” or visit to view the new broadcast ads

The award-winning Minneapolis-based ad agency Mono served as a strategic and creative partner for the campaign. Mono has a long track record in the network brand space. Mono is credited with helping USA Network achieve the No. 1 most-watched cable channel position with its “Characters Welcome” branding campaign nearly five years ago and was recently named one of the best small agencies in the country by Advertising Age.


Built on the worldwide resources of NBC News, MSNBC defines news for the next generation with world-class reporting and a full schedule of live news coverage, political analysis and award-winning documentary programming — 24 hours a day, seven days a week. MSNBC’s home on the Internet is delivers a fuller spectrum of news. Drawing on its award-winning original journalism, NBC News heritage, trusted sources and Microsoft’s advanced technologies, the site presents compelling, diverse and visually-engaging stories on the consumer’s platform of choice. Members of the media can get more information about MSNBC and its programming on or the NBC Universal Media Village Web site at


Michael Hart, Chris Lange and Jim Scott opened mono in 2004 with the belief that simpler is better. mono is a Minneapolis-based company that believes in the power of simplicity, putting it to work to create innovative communications for clients that include Apple, Rolaids, Herman Miller, Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day, Blu Dot, General Mills, Sesame Street, and the Harvard Business School. For more information, go to


Executive Producers Susan Kirson & Jeffrey Frankel have produced award-winning commercials, promos, videos and creative content with some of world’s foremost directors. They have been associated with Spike Lee since 2007. For more information, please visit


Posted by:TV By The Numbers

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