GSN Doesn’t 'Dodge’ Series Promotion

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American Idol jester William Hung is the star of a new GSN marketing campaign tied to its upcoming Extreme Dodgeball series and other new programs.

GSN shot a music video on June 7 featuring Hung, who massacres the Queen anthem “We Are The Champions.”

The video, which GSN is pitching to music-video networks such as Fuse to simulcast as a lead-in to show’s 10 p.m. premiere on June 15, will also showcase other new GSN series, including Celebrity Blackjack and Vegas Weddings Unveiled.

HUNG HASN’T COOLED

“He [Hung] is still hot,” said GSN senior vice president of marketing Dena Kaplan. “A loser can be a winner. He personifies the ultimate underdog.”

GSN plans to supplement the video and on-air promotional efforts by kicking off a marketing campaign the week of June 21, in which it will buy cross-channel spots on local cable systems and trade ads touting its new shows.

Also aimed at adults 18 to 49, Vegas Weddings is slated to debut June 18 at 9 p.m., and Celebrity Blackjack will kick off on July 5, featuring celebrities such as Snoop Dogg, Shannen Doherty, Ben Stein, Bijou Phillips and Camryn Manheim.

A second component of the Dodgeball campaign, which Kaplan said will cost GSN less than $4 million, kicks off the week of July 5, when the network will run national cable and radio ads touting a “Get Out of Dodge” sweepstakes.

GSN will also run banner ads on Web sites, including ComedyCentral.com., MTV.com, liquid generation and Yahoo!.

GRAND PRIZE: MAUI

The grand prize winner of the online sweepstakes gets a trip for two to Maui, Hawaii. GSN said the first-place winner would become Honorary Deputy Marshall of Dodge City, Kansas, for a day.

Kaplan said GSN will also conduct a mobile Extreme Dodgeball tour this summer. It will hit New York, Los Angeles and possibly Boston’s Copley Square for the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing Summit in July. Team members from the show will play on a mobile court, and onlookers will also get a chance to participate if they sign a waiver.

Will CTAM Summit attendees also get a chance to fling the ball? “You bet,” Kaplan responded. “Just sign that release in case I pop you in the head.”

While dodgeball has been played by generations of grade-school kids, some educators have viewed it as politically incorrect contest in which some children are picked on.

The goal is to eliminate opposing players by hitting them with the ball. Team members are also dropped if an opponent catches the ball hurled from the other side of the line.

THEATRICAL HELP

The sport’s popularity and GSN’s series also figure to benefit from the upcoming Ben Stiller theatrical Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story. The comedy, which also stars Vince Vaughn, is set to premiere June 18.

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