Discovery Health Sets Food for Fuel Push

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Discovery Health Channel will launch its first integrated national affiliates' campaign this summer, an educational program geared to run through the 2000-2001 school year.

Dubbed "Food for Fuel," the educational program was created to help promote good health habits and to raise awareness at the local level for affiliates' cable-modem businesses, Discovery Networks U.S. senior vice president of affiliate marketing Lori McFarling said.

This month, Discovery Health will embark on a 16-market mall tour, which runs through mid-November, during which participating operators can display their modems, as well as other new services.

Mall attendees can visit a food-pyramid obstacle course featuring local celebrity athletes. Participants move from activities related to breakfast, lunch and dinner, with such names as "Break Fast!," "Try Over Spilled Milk" and "Protein Pull."

Everyone who finishes the obstacle course receives a medal and a digital photo diskette, which includes links to the discoveryhealth.com Web site, as well as the affiliates' sites.

Students can participate in a contest to create a winning Web page related to the subject of food as fuel.

"All winning Web sites will be featured on the Discovery.com Web site," McFarling said, adding that a professional soccer team will also visit the winning school. In 10 markets, winning schools will receive free computers and cable-modem installations from the local cable operators.

The events are also likely to generate local press coverage for participating affiliates, she added.

The National Association of Elementary School Principals helped to develop the network's Food for Fuel program to help connect today's health issues with schools' core subjects. Discovery will post cross-curricular resources for teachers on its Web sites.

"We're encouraging affiliates to partner with local schools to promote the Web-design content and to promote cable-modem service," McFarling said.

Discovery sent more than 100,000 posters to schools in May to help promote the program in time for the next school season. It is also in talks with Cable in the Classroom to include the Food for Fuel program in the back-to-school edition of its magazine.

More than 125 schools have already signed up to participate, according to McFarling.

She recommended that operators seek ad-sales opportunities with food- and health-related businesses, adding that schools can drum up support for the program with public-service campaigns such as food drives.

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