In what it deemed as the biggest network-launch marketing
campaign ever, Fox Kids Worldwide Inc. will spend $100 million to promote its Aug. 15
debut of Fox Family Channel.
Fox may need every penny: It will fight an uphill battle to
repackage The Family Channel as a children's/family service that will take on
kids'-programming juggernaut Nickelodeon.
While Fox has yet to give the campaign a title, it will run
for one year, with "bursts" of activity reflecting the various programs that Fox
will roll out to consumers.
"We'll be promoting the network and building the
brand image initially, but we'll quickly transfer the message to be more
tune-in-specific," said Tom Lucas, senior vice president of marketing for Fox Family
Lucas said the network's "teaser" promotion
will begin July 15 and consistently build through the network's Aug. 15 launch.
The $100 million campaign -- some of it consisting of time
on the Fox broadcast network -- will also include a major "Watch and Win"
consumer-sweepstakes promotion, complete with several national sponsors, such as fast-food
chain Wendy's and PolyGram Video. It will also feature a local-market component for
operators to generate local-ad-sales revenue, Lucas said.
"The focus of the campaign is to get the message
across that we're a family channel -- with more emphasis on the family aspect than
The Family Channel," Lucas said. "We will evoke the lifestyle that embraces
today's contemporary family."
The campaign will support the network's complete
overhaul since Fox Kids -- a partnership of News Corp. and Saban Entertainment -- bought
The Family Channel last year from Pat Robertson's International Family Entertainment
Inc. for $1.9 billion.
Fox will do battle with Nickelodeon for the coveted
kids'-television market, programming 11 hours per day of animated and
Meanwhile, Fox has earmarked $125 million to produce 26
original movies as part of its primetime lineup, which will also include several original
half-hour shows targeted toward family viewing.
Unlike other new-network launches, Fox Family does have a
built in advantage: It is inheriting 72 million subscribers from The Family Channel.
Fox is hoping that its marketing plan -- which will reach
90 percent of adults 18 through 49 over an average of four weeks -- will translate into
even higher ratings than those earned by the current version of The Family Channel, which
was generally averaging a 1.0 to 1.4 Nielsen Media Research rating in primetime, with a
lineup consisting largely of old off-network reruns and occasional original movies. In
fact, Lucas said, he's setting his sights on making Fox Family the highest-rated
advertising-based network on cable.
While complete details of the promotion were not complete
at press time, the campaign will feature a heavy rotation of ads on broadcast and cable
television, as well as on radio networks. Fox will also promote the new channel through
outdoor media, such as billboards and building sides, Lucas said.
In addition, the network will feature
"significant" print ads in such national publications as TV Guide, The
Cable Guide and Total TV. And to emphasize its kids' block, Fox Family
will target children's periodicals.
The "Watch and Win" campaign -- the first of
numerous wide-ranging promotions -- will run for one month beginning with the
network's launch. Wendy's will distribute 100 million entry forms within its
5,000 locations, while PolyGram Video will place promotion teaser ads on 800,000
videocassettes and display ads in 20,000 home-video-retailer outlets. Prizes include a
"Getaway" vacation house, $100,000 in cash and passes to Busch Entertainment
Corp. properties, including nine Busch Gardens theme parks and Sea World in Orlando, Fla.,
The campaign will also receive free promotion on the Fox
What's in it for cable operators? Fox said they can
sell local sponsorships for the "Watch and Win" promotion as part of the turnkey
campaign. Also, systems can generate credit points that can be redeemed for prizes by
running cross-channel spots for the promotion on approved networks. And operators can use
the prizes for local-employee-incentive plans, Lucas said.
Thus far, Fox Family has signed 176 systems, totaling 15
million households, for the campaign.
It is unclear, however, how much local-marketing support
operators will provide to Fox Family. Several operators that were contacted said they will
wait and see the final details of Fox's contributions before determining their
A number of operators welcomed Fox's aggressive
marketing stance, saying that the move will help to alleviate consumer confusion over the
"With the [campaign], I don't think that consumer
confusion will be an issue; networks make programming changes all of the time," said
one top five MSO marketing executive. "I think that the real issues will be the
quality of the new programming that Fox puts on the air, and whether it will be
appreciated by the customer."