Even though MSOs increasingly are asking for customized sales promotions from networks, many continue to opt for the plain-vanilla variety – those that are variously described as turnkey, off-the-shelf or evergreens.
At The Walt Disney Co.'s ABC Cable Networks Group, director of local ad sales Ron Hebshie said three new evergreen promotions are en route, in response to requests from affiliates. Each targets a specific ad category.
One is ABC Family's automotive-aimed local-ad-sales promotion, he said, explaining that his group's largest insertable network is well-matched to attracting local cable's biggest category. Both also pursue the same 18-to-adult demo.
This promotion – whose national sweepstakes grand prize is a year of free car payments and gas – emerged from an affiliate conference call, he said.
The other two evergreens are SoapNet's "Soap Night" promotion (targeting restaurants, nightclubs and bars) and Toon Disney's "Anchors Away" – in association with Disney Cruise Line – zeroing in on travel and tourism at a time when cable needs help in luring that category back into advertising, he said. The only other networks specializing in those sectors are Food Network and Travel Channel, respectively, he said.
Each evergreen will offer local prizes as well, something affiliates want, Hebshie said.
For the auto promotion, local prizing includes a high-end portable GPS unit with accessories. In yet another response to operators, Hebshie said ABC Family won't require any tune-in spot-run to qualify for participation.
The ABC Family and Toon Disney promotions also include a package of taggable "donut" spots that highlight tips, with a 15-second local-sponsor insert. The auto package features suggestions on family auto safety and maintenance, while the Toon Disney package contains family travel tips. These can run during the promotion, as well as in "standalone" ad packages, Hebshie noted.
Cox Communications Inc.'s Orange County, Calif., system recently did a pilot test of the SoapNet promo, to test the serial-themed game elements, he said. Toon Disney will pilot its promotion MSO-wide with Cox during June, he said, while Adelphia Communications pilots nationally that month with the auto promotion.
ABC Cable in the next year or so will work with small and mid-sized systems on developing promotions tailored to their needs, Hebshie disclosed.