Black Entertainment Television has hired the first outside
advertising agency in its 20-year history -- Detroit-based Don Coleman Advertising Inc. --
to help develop a new branding and image campaign.
The $5 million campaign comes on the heels of consumer
research indicating that BET enjoys 95 percent brand awareness among African-American
cable-television viewers who watch eight or more hours of television each week, according
to BET senior vice president of corporate marketing and communications Kelli Richardson.
Despite that strong brand awareness, research showed that
viewers still associate BET primarily with music videos.
The new campaign was designed to let the network's
African-American target audience know "we're so much more than music-video
programming," Richardson said, adding that BET recently invested $8 million in movies
alone, plus another $8 million in its late-night talk show, BET Tonight.
"BET is more than you thought -- it's everything
you're looking for," the woman in the new television ad says to her male counterpart
after both nearly walk away from a futuristic cavern filled with television monitors. The
60-second spot then shows a montage highlighting the breadth of programming available,
ranging from late-night talk shows to comedy, news and movies.
BET launched its new image spot in early December on its
own cable networks, which include BET on Jazz, BET Action Pay-Per-View and BET
International Networks. The spots will also be placed on affiliate cable systems
representing about 50 percent of BET's target households early next year.
After that, the network will evaluate the ad's
effectiveness, with the possibility of adding broadcast networks United Paramount Network
and The WB Television Network to the mix.
The ads pick up the "BET Black Star Power" theme
introduced at the start of the fall television season. In consumer research, viewers
identified BET's star-shaped logo as a symbol of pride and power. BET's goal has been
showcasing African-American stars on its programming for 20 years, Richardson said.
In addition to the TV spots, BET plans to use a wide range
of traditional and alternative marketing tactics, including print ads in its own
publications -- Heart & Soul, Emerge and BET Weekend -- as well
as other magazines targeted to African Americans.
To reach urban viewers, BET will also use outdoor ads,
including signage on construction sites, and it will hire street teams to distribute
postcards showcasing its best programming.
The BET Star Power theme will also be carried over to the
Internet once BET launches its expanded BET.com Web site in early February.
Richardson said she expects the new image campaign to run
at least through next summer, with tweaks in time for the network's 20th-anniversary
gala in May.
BET will continue to use its in-house creative team,
especially for developing topical, show-specific marketing. The outside agency, however,
brings new resources and "creative juices" to BET, Richardson said, adding,
"It's always good to get new perspective."