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Aspire cable network closes first launch partnership with Universal McCann clients

ASPIRE, the new cable network from Earvin "Magic" Johnson set to premiere in June, announced today it has signed its first launch partnerships in a deal with Universal McCann for multiple clients including Nationwide Insurance and L'Oreal USA brands L'Oreal Paris, Maybelline New York, Garnier and Soft-Sheen Carson. The deals provide the L'Oreal brands and Nationwide Insurance category exclusivity for an undisclosed period of time.

In addition to the on-air buys, L'Oreal, Nationwide Insurance and additional Universal McCann clients will retain the right to customize an event hosted by Johnson for their employees and consumers, as well as have the opportunity to feature their brands in a GMC World Premiere Play or GMC World Premiere Movie.

Johnson, chairman of ASPIRE, stated, "The team at Universal McCann and their clients, Nationwide Insurance and L'Oreal Paris, Maybelline New York, Garnier and Soft-Sheen Carson, share our vision for a new network that encourages and challenges African-Americans to reach for their dreams; one that will create tremendous opportunities for African-Americans in front of and behind the camera."

"We are pleased to be part of the launch of the ASPIRE cable network," said Chris Chesebro, U.S. director of media investments, L'Oreal USA. "This opportunity provides L'Oreal's brands with an innovative platform to reach our ethnic consumers in a way that is unique and compelling."

Matt Jauchius, chief marketing and strategy officer, Nationwide Insurance, said, "ASPIRE is a perfect match for the Nationwide brand. We have a long history of supporting the African-American community and we're excited to be a part of the future success of ASPIRE."

Mary Jeanne Cavanagh, executive vice president ad sales for ASPIRE and GMC, said her team is on the verge of closing additional ASPIRE launch deals before the upfront.

"We are delighted to welcome prestigious clients from Universal McCann, including Nationwide Insurance and L'Oreal brands, as ASPIRE's very first ad partners," Cavanagh said. "The buzz and excitement surrounding ASPIRE began as soon as details of the new network were announced last month, and the enthusiasm is continuing to grow as we get closer to securing additional launch deals in other categories. ASPIRE and GMC provide unique value to advertisers by enabling them to place their brands in positive, uplifting and engaging entertainment environments, a rarity in today's television landscape."

Yin Rani, president, Universal McCann North America, said, "The multicultural audience remains an important and growing segment of our clients. We believe the passion and energy that Magic Johnson and his partners are bringing to this network will create a great platform for our clients' brands to engage with key consumers."

ASPIRE will be an African-American targeted network designed to entertain, inform and inspire through a diverse slate of original and acquired programming in the categories of movies, documentaries, short films, music, comedy, visual and performing arts and faith and inspirational programs. The network will be dedicated to shining a light on the successes, achievements and accomplishments of the African-American community. ASPIRE recently was awarded one of the first four, new and minority owned and operated independent network launch commitments by Comcast.
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