Several cable networks are using sales promotions not only
to generate big bucks for affiliates, but to attract a goodly number of new clients or
categories to their local avails.
At MTV Networks, among the most aggressive in developing
affiliate tie-in efforts, vice president of affiliate ad sales Jason Malamud said MTV:
Music Television's most recent MTV Video Music Awards tallied $3.8 millon. The
September event generated "the most ever [local ad sales] for a one-night
event," he said.
The VMA's biggest local purchase -- a six-figure buy
from Steve Madden Shoes on Time Warner CityCable in New York -- was from an advertiser new
to cable, he added.
MTV's Movie Awards special also lured several
new-to-cable advertisers to affiliates' local avails last June. Among them: a music
retailer booked by Time Warner Cable's Adcast in Charlotte, N.C.; a carwash sold by
MediaOne Group Inc. in Santa Ana, Calif.; a supermarket booked by Dakota Cable in
Bismarck, N.D.; and a pizza store sold by Frontiervision in Newark, Ohio, according to
The latest event to crack the $1 million level in local ad
revenues this year under the MTVN umbrella belongs to VH1 -- its Dec. 5 VH1/Vogue
Fashion Awards. Its "$1 million and counting" more than doubled that
special's local take a year ago, Malamud said.
A dozen first-time clients helped lift the Fashion
Awards' local sales performance, including three spas and two furniture stores.
Comcast's Baltimore system, Time Warner Cable in Rochester, N.Y., and Time Warner's Costa
Mesa, Calif., system each landed an account in the relatively new spa category, he said.
Comcast of Baltimore and AdNex Detroit, the Detroit
interconnect, each brought in a furniture retailer, he added.
In addition, Time Warner Adcast in Charlotte sold an auto
mall as a new account, while Century Communications Corp. brought in a women's clothing
store in Colorado Springs, Colo. Still other affiliates booked new clients in the music
retailer, restaurant and shopping-mall sectors.
Maintaining that VH1 is growing in sales because its
audience of adult music lovers represents a new opportunity for local and national
advertisers, Malamud said the network's "Save the Music" promotions also are
catching on locally. Cable Advertising of Metro Atlanta (CAMA), for instance, sold a
sponsorship to a natural gas company, a rather new category.
MTVN's Nickelodeon allows affiliates to bring in a mix of
advertisers targeting adults, parents and youngsters, Malamud added.
Its latest Kids' Choice Awards last May attracted
three hospitals, two of which were new to cable accounts, he said. One was sold by
AT&T Broadband in Boise, Idaho; another by the Northern Ohio Interconnect in
Cleveland. Another new adult-oriented client was a Mazda/Suzuki dealership in an
Time Warner's Adcast in Charlotte sold two skating rinks
that targeted both kids and their parents. Adcast also booked a shopping mall for its
first cable buy, tied to Nick's GameLab.
A Nickelodeon CatDog promotion also proved a magnet
for new business, Malamud said. Time Warner Cable in Memphis sold a dairy, a zoo and a
children's hair salon via the promotion, while Cox CableRep in Pensacola, Fla., lured in a
Comedy Central has also staged several affiliate tie-ins
that have delivered new clients to operators' local avails, according to senior vice
president of affiliate relations Brad Samuels and vice president of affiliate marketing
In Pittsburgh, AT&T Broadband sold A&L Motors, a
Jaguar dealership, on the "Daily Show Big Shot," an evergreen promotion.
Comedy's upscale audience is often overlooked, but Samuels lauded the operator for
"making that connection" -- and booking the $17,000 new-to-cable account in the
Bringing in new clients, whether network or local, is
"always what you're trying to do," Samuels observed. Next year, that will be the
main goal of seven Comedy off-the-shelf promotions (including one for its series The
Man Show) and two time-locked promotions.
Comedy's October Friars Club Roast was the subject
of a local sales promotion that began last August, Samuels added. Time Warner CityCable
sold that to the Ranch One restaurant chain, a new account that which spent $45,000 on the
That Roast promotion, already a success in its first
outing, also cellular-phone provider Powertel as a new client in three Southeastern
markets, the executives said. In Jacksonville, Fla., MediaOne booked a $178,000 order from
Powertel, while Time Warner Cable in Memphis landed a $40,000 buy and CAMA in Atlanta
received a $15,000 order, Samuels said.
Key to this promotions' success is its guarantee of trips
for local winners, rather than giving just one nationwide prize, he said.
CAMA, which Samuels praised as second only to Los Angeles'
Adlink in terms of using marketing as a sales driver, now is working with an Athens, Ga.,
hospital on a "Comedy Rx" promotion buy. Comedy Rx, a network service initiative
which borrows from the old saw that laughter is the best medicine, enables operators to
link comedy events to a fundraiser for a local charity or healthcare facility.
That's a rather new category for operators, he said, adding
that Comedy Rx's "pro-social [focus] is a great hook for promotions."
Adelphia Communications Corp.'s system in West Palm Beach,
Fla., is linking a "Comedy Rx" promotion to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, Samuels
At Discovery Networks U.S., vice president of local ad
sales/national accounts Clint Stinchcomb and director of promotions Kelleigh Dulany cited
a handul of promotions as especially effective in luring new business. Among them are
Discovery Channel's perennial "Shark Week" and the newer "Spin the Globe
and Go" promotion for Travel Channel, each with national and local sponsorship
For Shark Week, affiliates have been going beyond the usual
accounts to target major theme parks, for example, Dulany noted.
The most promising new tie-in is Discovery Kids' "Your
World, Your Adventure" -- the fledgling network's first sweepstakes -- running from
November through April.
Dulany said many affiliates also sought local dealership
tie-ins to Subaru's recent national sponsor link with Animal Planet's Crocodile Hunter
series. "That's the direction we're trying to move in" with other national/local
account tie-ins, she said.
Stinchcomb and western region local sales account manager
Christy Barrionuevo agreed that Adlink is perhaps the most active interconnect in terms of
marketing and promotional tie-ins, adding that more are already in the works for 2000.
Discovery Networks has also started pitches to persuade the
Los Angeles interconnect to add Travel Channel and Discovery Health early next year, when
Adlink further expands its insertable networks roster by five, for a total of 40, the
Fox Family Channel has only just started to track
local-sales successes on a regular basis for its own affiliate promotions, said vice
president of affiliate ad sales David McFarland.
McFarland, who joined Fox Family four months ago from
Comedy Central, said that starting next year, his network will place a new emphasis on
" 'breakout' promotions for the contemporary family audience [in primetime] and for
kids in daytime."
McFarland said he intents to target fast-food, automotive
and leisure-time clients.
For late in the 2000 first quarter, McFarland said Fox
Family is developing a parent-oriented evergreen promotion built around the network,
rather than any specific program.
There also will be a time-locked "Fox Family Summer
Sweepstakes" promo targeted for May through June, he added. Winners will be able to
choose between a water sports/beach getaway trip or a big city trip.
The network will also continue its costumed characters
promotion, built around such animated shows as Donkey Kong, and its Fun & Games
promotion. Both evergreens have proven successful, he said.