One could forgive advertisers with schedules in ABC Family’s “25 Days of Christmas” for already being in the holiday spirit.
Sponsors who bought time in the annual stunt — which this year encompasses 150 hours of branded holiday-themed movies, specials and series episodes, through Dec. 25 — were rewarded with a 6% rise in households to a 1.9 average between 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. during its first four days. That compares with a 1.8 for the comparable period of 2004.
From Dec. 1 to 4, ABC Family also scored a 7% gain in average total viewership to some 2.84 million in that time period, versus 2.64 million in the year-ago period, according to Nielsen Media Research data.
ABC Family’s fast start was paced by the Rankin/Bass perennial Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town on Dec. 3 — the most-watched show that night on basic cable, with 3.93 million viewers — and the premiere of original film Chasing Christmas, which finished third in its 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. time slot the following night, with 3.23 million viewers.
The service’s largest ad-sales and programming gambit — ABC Family senior vice president of national ad sales Mark Rejtig said the net enjoyed its best-ever month last December when it attracted 812,000 adult viewers 18-49 viewers on average, to rank fifth overall in basic cable against that demo — has drawn many national sponsors.
Rejtig said ABC Family has inked ad deals with RadioShack, Wal-Mart, Kmart, Target, T.J. Maxx and Sears, among other chains.
He noted that 15 clients will “own a day” within the stunt period through spots, as well as on-air billboards, plus ties to bumpers, intros and tune-in promos.
“We could have easily sold all 25 days, but we wanted to make it more special for our client partners,” Rejtig said.
Elsewhere, America Online Inc. has bought a package that makes it the presenting sponsor and the beneficiary of product integration within the original film Christmas in Boston (premiering Dec. 14 at 8 p.m.).
Coca-Cola is on board through a sizable ad schedule, as well co-branded on-air and online spots, featuring the soft drink giant’s polar bears and the network’s Santa Claus.
ABC Family executives hope to keep viewership pumping via an array of new marketing tactics. ABC Family is conducting an in-store giveaway with purchase in 313 American Greetings outlets. The network has also taken to the air in the form of 90-second trailers on Continental Airlines In-Flight monitors.
ABC Family this year also has a presence at Santa stations in 35 Simon malls, where those waiting to visit with St. Nick will see a “25 Days” programming reel and receive a scented ornament.
At some 300 tree lots in New York City, Chicago and Los Angeles, visitors will be greeted by street teams who’ll hand out programming guides.