Fox Family Scares Up Local Sales


Fox Family Channel's latest "13 Days of Halloween" affiliate sales promotion had amassed more than $4 million in local sales, network president of distribution John Burns said last week.

That promotion — which the network supported from Oct. 1 through Oct. 14 with customized promo spots meant to drive consumers to window displays and point-of-sale entry sites at retail locations — offers as its grand prize a trip to the Queen Mary in Long Beach, Calif. Spots for the sweepstakes, tagged by sponsor Yahoo! Travel, describe the ocean liner as "the world's largest ghost ship."

The network has also supplied participating operators with taggable 15-second Angela Anaconda
spots, which offer safety tips for youngsters to use while trick-or-treating.

Operator support for the affiliate-sales promotion — which last year lured 210 interconnects and systems reaching 35 million subscribers — continues to build.

The participation count for this fall's effort is in "the high 200s," according to Burns and senior vice president of affiliate marketing and local ad sales Todd Schoen. The promo will reach 55 million subscribers this year, they said.

About 75 percent of those participants are involved in the local-sales component, Schoen added, and more than 150 local clients have signed on. The MSOs involved include AT&T Broadband (25 percent), Comcast Corp. (17 percent) and Time Warner Cable (12 percent). Participating interconnects account for another 18 percent and include Adlink in Los Angeles, AT&T's Chicago interconnect and Comcast's Detroit operation.

The promotion's local-client list includes Applebee's, Baskin-Robbins, Blockbuster Video, Campbell's Soup Co., Kroger Co., Mega Bloks and Six Flags of America, Schoen said.

Calling it "Fox Family's first fully integrated promotion," Burns estimated that the overall value of the paid and unpaid marketing support from the network, its affiliates and its advertisers would be nearly $20 million.

A national Fox Family "Unlock the Gates Sweepstakes" (Oct. 19 to Oct. 31) is being sponsored by General Mills Inc. and Yahoo! Inc., which also backs the online "Haunted Places Sweepstakes," he said.

And a 28-market local radio promotion (Oct. 15 to Oct. 26) offers "13 Days of Halloween Kits" as a contest giveaway. They contain a duffel bag, watch, disposable camera and videos of Scariest Places on Earth
and When Good Ghouls Go Bad.

Now in its fourth year, the "13 Days of Halloween" programming stunt consists of more than 125 hours of Halloween-themed shows from Oct. 19 through Oct. 31, up from 100 hours a year ago, Burns said.

The shows range from new episodes of Scariest Places on Earth
— including the "Family Dare" episode, A Night in Dracula's Castle: The Transylvania Dare
— and the premiere of the original movie When Good Ghouls Go Bad.

Though Fox Family may have the most extensive Halloween plans, it is by no means alone on the promotion and stunt fronts. AMC will air its "Monsterfest" stunt, Starz! Family its "Hallow-scream" movie marathon and Disney Channel will center its efforts around the movie Halloweentown II.

Toon Disney, whose programming includes an Oct. 31 "Gargoyles
Halloween Marathon," expects to benefit from an off-channel Halloween-themed Sun-Maid Growers of California "Toons & Treats Sweepstakes" campaign. The sweepstakes ad in the latest Reader's Digest, which touts a VIP trip to Walt Disney Studios and Disneyland as the contest's grand prize, also includes a footnote with a phone number so consumers can "find out how to get Toon Disney, Disney's all-toon channel."

Though outside the children's programming realm, Turner Network Television is also running its annual "Trick or Treat for UNICEF."

The network has been busy lining up support for that program from advertisers — including Ikea, Pier 12 Imports and Sears, Roebuck & Co.'s Sears Portrait Studio — as well as from affiliates and schools.

TNT recently ran an ad in Cable in the Classroom
magazine that urged educators to request free posters and orange collection boxes for grades 7 through 12, to raise money for the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF).