IFC Affils Feast on 'Dinner' Promotion

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Independent Film Channel's ongoing " Dinner for Five
Phenomenal Campaign" appears to have been aptly named, with respect to the digital-tier and cable-modem sales it has generated, executives from Bravo Networks and participating affiliates said.

The customized affiliate campaign — by far IFC's biggest to date — was conducted in 10 markets. When the network runs the promotion again next year, chances are its affiliate list will again be kept just as tight.

Dinner for Five— which the network has recently started to refer to as D45 — is an original, unscripted primetime series (Mondays at 8 p.m.). Host Jon Favreau and four celebrity guests discuss a wide range of subjects in a casual dinner setting.

Favreau, who created the series' concept, also is a well-known film actor, writer and director.

The promotion to date has gone "phenomenally well" in "upselling" digital-cable tiers and modems, said Bravo Networks executive vice president of affiliate sales and marketing Gregg Hill.

"For IFC, it was unquestionably the biggest thing we've ever done," he said.

The effort posted "great results at the system level, beating benchmarks we'd set in a big way," he said, citing results at Charter Communications Inc.'s system in St. Louis, Comcast Corp.'s Nashville, Tenn., system and AT&T Broadband in Chicago.

Other participants included several Comcast systems in metro Philadelphia and elsewhere in Pennsylvania and Santa Fe, N.M.; and AT&T systems in Atlanta and Portland, Ore.

At its halfway mark, the campaign had generated "thousands of new revenue-generating units," said Bravo Networks senior vice president of marketing Caroline Bock, who declined to provide more details.

Charter's St. Louis system posted "great results" from the Dinner
promotion, which is now "pretty much done," said vice president of marketing and sales Mindy Jeffries.

"[We] had a 10 percent response rate, meaning come out and install," said Jeffries, who noted that was unusually high.

The system, which frequently uses monthly mailings to customers, more typically generates responses in the 5 percent to 7 percent range, she added.

Other affiliates were enthusiastic, but less specific.

In a prepared statement, AT&T Broadband Chicago marketing manager Joe Higgins said only that its campaign was effective in driving its digital business.

Vice president of communications Pat Keenan later added that the drive, which bolstered digital-cable and modem sales, was "a great success but we don't have numbers to report out." She praised IFC for "not using the cookie-cutter approach" to affiliate promotion.

Since it began in April, Bravo executives reported that more than 10,000 visitors to the network's Web site (www.ifctv.com) have accessed its online "IFQ" game (Independent Film Quotient Test). More than 3,400 have visited the site's "Get Broadband" page, which touts the benefits of high-speed cable-modem connections.

SUPPORT MATERIALS

In some markets, affiliates have offered a one-year subscription to IFCRant
magazine and an IFC wristwatch premium as incentives to consumers who sign up for either service.

"Gift-with-purchase seems to work," Bock said.

The supporting campaign includes national and local portions, such as cross-channel spots, featuring Favreau; direct mailings; ads in such magazines as Entertainment Weekly, Premiere
and Rolling Stone; local broadcast; and spot cable, said Bock.

IFC is contributing matching funds to affiliates for their local marketing push, said Bock, adding that all participating systems have taken advantage of that offer.

"We're definitely going to do it again [next year]," said Hill. IFC will likely select different markets but the number probably will remain the same, he said.

IFC already has ordered 13 new episodes of Dinner for Five, to begin production this summer and hit the channel in late January.

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