In keeping with tradition, ABC Family is looking to harness the holiday viewing masses with its largest annual marketing effort — a multifaceted campaign surrounding its “25 Days of Christmas” programming event.
As with last year's push, ABC Family is running in-store promotions, this time working with greeting-card purveyor American Greetings and featuring posters and gift-with-purchase giveaways of ABC Family 2007 holiday planners. This year's promotion has been expanded to 290 stores.
The ninth annual edition of the programming stunt will run from Dec. 1 to Dec. 25, offering more than 200 hours of mixed content.
As part of the promotion, ABC Family is sponsoring Santa stations in 43 Simon Malls locations, with poster placement near the line where kids and parents are waiting to see Santa, giveaways of scented Santa ornaments and a 30-minute video loop of its holiday fare.
The network is also taking its message outdoors, with banners placed at 200 Christmas tree lots in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston and Philadelphia, as well as branded hat-and-scarf-clad street teams, positioned at select lots in the top-five markets, to distribute branded hand warmers and programming guides.
ABC Family also continues tried and true methods of poster placement in the top 10 markets, billboards in Los Angeles and New York, including a construction bridge unit.
Elsewhere, the network has secured 30-second ad spots in movie theaters; bought an ad mailer with Netflix targeting people who like Christmas movies; reserved space on the new LCD advertising panels in the New York City subway system; scheduled radio spots throughout December, purchased network and spot cable ads; fashioned print ads in various publications; and placed posters in more than 12,000 post offices.
The network is also plugging an online campaign on AmericanGreetings.com, among other Web sites, through which users can send out “25 Days of Christmas” greeting cards. In the interactive realm, the network is featuring “Snowball Fight,” which can be played through select partner sites, and a “Snowboarding Santa” game, accessible through online banner ads.
The ABC Family Web site, meanwhile, has been refreshed with a redesign, including video previews, gift cards, screen savers and the “25 Days of Christmas” sweepstakes — a chance to win $25,000.
With expanded marketing efforts comes expanded programming. This year's rendition of “25 Days of Christmas” will blend time-tested holiday classics with new originals and premieres.
Among newly acquired programs are the Harry Potter movies, kicking off Dec. 1 with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, and continuing through the weekend with Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. The titles are complemented with behind-the-scenes interviews, bonus footage and deleted scenes, plus a sneak peak at Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
Another recently acquired asset: The Polar Express, starring Tom Hanks. The 2004 holiday film makes its basic-cable premiere on the network Dec. 8.
On the original side, ABC Family has a pair of telepics on its list: Santa Baby (premiering Dec. 10), starring Jenny McCarthy as the daughter of Santa Claus, who must fill in for the ailing gifter; and Christmas Do-Over (Dec. 16), which might be tagged Groundhog Day meets Scrooged — starring Jay Mohr (Jerry Maguire) and Daphne Zuniga (the network's series Beautiful People).
“'Twenty-Five Days of Christmas' really is our highest-rated big special of the year. So we spend a lot of money making original programming for it,” said Paul Lee, president of ABC Family. “It's also a chance to bring back the great classics, like Rankin/Bass.”