Discovery Promo Plan Hits the Road

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Discovery Networks U.S. will launch a new strategy this year, with each of its networks creating programming blocks that will offer cable affiliates flexible promotions that can be tweaked to tout the service of the local operator's choice.

First up, Travel Channel's “Hit the Road with Travel Channel,” pairing two second-year series: 5 Takes, which follows five young international travelers who document their trip with video cameras and interact with viewers at the network's Web site; and Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, in which the chef and author travels the globe experiencing exotic local cuisines.

“Calling these promotions almost downplays what they are,” said Lauren Monks, national director of MSO marketing for Discovery Networks. “All affiliates get options of what they want to promote. They pick a platform. It breaks through the standard promo mentality.”

For instance, 5 Takes can be used to market high-definition television or high-speed Internet service. To drive connections on the latter product, the first 250 new data subscribers will win Webcams, to document their own travel experiences with friends.

Viewers in each market will be urged to enter an online sweepstakes to go on the road, 5 Takes- style. They will be encouraged to create video logs of their winning travel experiences — content that can then live on the affiliate's portal to extend the high-speed-Internet component of the campaign.

Affiliates can also leverage the show to create an area on local Web sites where young travelers can share ideas for destinations, as well as other travel tips.

The network has also developed an interactive e-mail campaign that affiliates may opt to use, detailing “Travel Channel's 5 Takes Top Five Reasons” to purchase multiple products from the affiliate. Complementary spots, advertising video-on-demand content related to the show, is also available.

A market-by-market sweepstakes is attached to the Bourdain series as well, with the winner receiving a trip for two to dine with the chef. Monks confirmed that no exotic travel or edible bugs will be involved. The sweepstakes can either be offered to viewers, or used as a local ad incentive, since this series will include local sales building opportunities.

According to Monks, this strategy was developed at the operators' request. “Affiliates are looking for flexibility,” she said. All Discovery Network promotions this year will follow these models, with locally adaptable elements applied to varied products, she noted.

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