ABC Family Is Putting 'Misers' to Work


If you were at Macy's Herald Square in New York or on the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica, Calif., on Thanksgiving weekend, you may have seen flame-orange-haired street teams handing out wigs and television guides.

Yes, Virginia, that was a cable TV promotion.

After 11 years, ABC Family knows how to grab attention for its annual “25 Days of Christmas” family-friendly viewing block. It maximizes relations within the Disney family, placing tune-in spots on networks including ABC and ESPN.

Even cars pulling up to the parking kiosks at the company's theme parks are given brochures with the schedule.

“Every year it is a challenge to do new strategies and raise the bar,” said Danielle Mullin, vice president of marketing for the channel.

This year, the network tied some guerrilla marketing to an original telefilm airing during the stunt. A Miser Brothers' Christmas (premiering Saturday, Dec. 13) is an animated sequel to the 1974 Rankin/Bass stop-motion animated feature, The Year Without a Christmas, starring the voices of Mickey Rooney and Shirley Booth.

The sequel centers on the characters Heat Miser and Snow Miser, crazy-haired battling brothers who must team up to save Christmas.

Mullin explained that the original feature has become part of the culture, with a generation of kids growing up learning the Snow Miser and Heat Miser's signature song (“I'm Mister White Christmas, I'm Mister Snow …” or “I'm Mister Green Christmas, I'm Mister Sun...”).

Street teams, dressed as the characters (such as the flame-wigged Heat Miser), lure passers-by into singing along, a great way to draw a crowd, Mullin said.

The characters also pass out versions of their wigs and large (2½ feet-by-2½ feet) reusable shopping bags with the campaign logo and a viewing guide inside.

In all, the network estimates that its media partners will distribute 1 million viewer guides at shopping centers and theme parks, along with a cookie-scented Santa ornament.

Another consumer clog point ABC Family is maximizing is the local mall's “Meet Santa” station. The network contracted with Simon Property Group to sponsor the photo opportunity stop in 73 of its malls and 15 of its premium outlet malls.

While parents and anxious children are waiting for a chance with Santa, they view a 30-minute continuous loop of the upcoming ABC Family programs.

While shopping for holiday foodstuffs, consumers will also encounter shelf-talkers and floor clings in 662 stores, placed in partnership with the channel's ad-sales partner, Nestle USA, in markets including Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Boston, Atlanta and Detroit.