As programmers and operators know, putting together local
promotional events can sometimes seem like a three-ring circus.
Fox Family Channel decided to tap into the excitement by
offering its affiliates and their subscribers a chance to fulfill everyone's childhood
dream of joining the circus, thanks to a cross-promotion with Feld Entertainment Inc.,
which promotes the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Greatest Show on Earth circuses.
"Like our channel, the circus is quality family
entertainment -- something you can do with your kids," Fox Family director of
marketing operations Bob Green said.
A total of 41 Fox Family affiliates have signed up to
participate in the joint promotion in its first year, according to Green.
With the help of two Ringling Bros. tours, the circus pulls
into 80 to 85 markets each year, according to Feld senior vice president of marketing Eric
Stevens. "We have a great national brand with incredible awareness and a local
presence," he added.
Fox Family offers three separate programs that affiliates
can tailor to their local needs, whether it's to reward subscriber loyalty, to build
employee morale or to garner goodwill among local officials.
AT&T Cable Services in Peoria, Ill., participated in
the "Clown Around Sweepstakes" when the circus came to its town in the spring.
In the promotion, operators team up with local ad-sales
clients to offer viewers the chance to visit with Ringling Bros. clowns and to be painted
and costumed to look like real clowns. "For kids, it's a dream of a lifetime,"
In Peoria, AT&T Cable's client was the Glen Oaks Zoo,
where cable viewers could register to win.
"It wasn't one of our smoothest promotions,"
admitted Paul Zacovic, local sales manager for AT&T Media Services in Peoria.
When animal-rights protesters picketed the zoo, the
operator had to pull the sweepstakes-entry drop box from the zoo a few days before the
contest was set to end. But because there were already a good number of entries on hand,
it was able to pick a winner, and the rest of the promotion went as planned.
"It worked out well," Zacovic said. "I would
do this again, but I probably wouldn't tie it in with the zoo."
Zacovic recommended that any local business appealing to a
family-oriented audience -- such as a fast-food restaurant or shoe store -- would make a
good ad-sales partner for the promotion.
In Albany, N.Y., Time Warner Cable partnered with a local
advertiser called Jeepers, where elementary-school-aged kids and pre-teens can play games
and hold birthday parties.
Local ad-sales manager Molly Brindle said Jeepers is a
regular account that advertises most frequently on Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, and it
also used Lifetime Television, USA Network and Fox Family to promote the Clown Around
One of the winners in the Albany sweepstakes was
photographed for the front page of the local paper, Brindle added.
To participate in the second Ringling Bros. promotion, Fox
Family affiliates were asked to run 500 cross-channel spots. In exchange, the operators
received a certain number of free tickets to each event, which they could use to reward
clients, employees or community groups.
Green said some affiliates went further with backstage
tours for VIP guests. And when the circus was in Los Angeles last week, MediaOne Group
Inc. partnered with Ringling Bros. to bring its clowns to local hospitals and to take some
of the young patients back as guests of the circus.
"The circus is fun, it's family, it's
entertainment," Green said, which makes for good public relations when a system is
going through a change in ownership, for example.
The third turnkey promotion in the program was a
free-ticket offer for subscribers, which offered one free ticket for every four purchased
by cable subscribers from local retail partners.
The "Fox Family Channel 3-Ring Promotion" started
early this year, and it runs through the end of this year's circus tour in December. The
network hopes to expand the program next year.
"My goal next year is to make this as easy as possible
for affiliates to work with," Green said.