Disney Gears 'Stanley' Stunt to Affiliate Ad Sales

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ABC Cable Networks Group, which just unveiled SoapNet's inaugural local-sales promotion, is now doing the same for Disney Channel. Disney Channel's first major affiliate-marketing and local-sales promotion centers on its "Playhouse Disney A to Z" programming stunt, which involves 26 days of Stanley
— one of the linchpins of the daily, learning-based preschool programming block.

Set for Sept. 16 through Oct. 11, the stunt will feature a different Stanley
episode that features one animal for each letter of the alphabet.

On Sept. 16, the network will present a primetime preview special that informs parents and other caregivers to its plans.

Although the promotion is billed as a means for affiliates to generate ad sales, the commercial-free Disney Channel does not offer on-air local avails, ABC Cable Networks Group senior vice president of affiliate sales development Todd Schoen said last week. As such, any revenue would have to be generated elsewhere, he said.

McDonald's Corp. — the first "Playhouse Disney" corporate sponsor — will not be involved on a national basis, but Schoen said many affiliates are likely to pitch local franchises to participate off-channel.

Such outlets could tie-in using in-store signage, sponsor-tagged promotional spots during other networks' local avails, or through other off-channel means.

Disney Channel first presented this promotion to affiliates less than two weeks ago, so it's too soon to have secured sponsor commitments, said Schoen.

Since the stunt is scheduled for the back-to-school period, Schoen predicted that shopping malls would be another prime target for operators. Day-care centers and toy stores are also likely categories, he said.

Promotion sponsorships must be sold by June 28, Schoen said.

Supported by cross-channel promotional spots, tune-in spots and in-store signage, a sweepstakes will offer $26,000 educational scholarship as its national grand prize. Also, roughly 50 "select" local-market winners will win a $2,600 scholarship.

In-store premium giveaways will be used to build traffic and drive entries.

Affiliates are asked to run the sweepstakes promos for two consecutive weeks between Aug. 5 and Sept. 14, and to run the tune-in spots from Sept. 9 through Sept. 22.

The programmer will also supply point-of-sale displays, ad slicks and postcards, and enhance awareness via promotion on the Playhouse Disney Web site (www.PlayhouseDisney.com).

On the affiliate-marketing side, Disney's promotional materials suggest that systems "customize materials to suit their high-speed acquisition or retention initiatives."

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