NY, LA Connection at Core of Sundance Drive


You'll need a roadmap to track all of the consumer marketing avenues Sundance Channel will walk over the next month-and-a-half.

"It may look that way, but there's a method to the madness," Sundance senior marketing vice president Kirk Iwanowski said last week, describing the array of elements coalescing on the network's most concerted push yet for increased viewership. Much of the activity will center on appealing to general film devotees and reaching out to those people in New York and Los Angeles.

Outdoor, movie house, print, radio and sweepstakes promotions are the campaign's major features, all linked to "10 Days of Sundance" — the seven-year-old network's celebration of its namesake film festival in Park City, Utah. Sundance will show nightly festival updates starting Jan. 16, primetime showings of past festival winners and live coverage of the closing ceremonies Jan. 25.

Although Sundance Channel's programming is independent film and video-centric, the campaign's intent is to stir up new digital subscribers among the crowd — equally split between the genders — Iwanowski labels "movie maniacs and stargazers."

He added, "This is the general film enthusiast population, and that's the audience we want to tap beyond our base of independent film fans. Every decision we made on this campaign, whether it was over media buying or sponsor partnerships or creative was defined by these behavioral characteristics." He said the research was conducted over an eight-month span.

Outdoor ads will start popping up around New York and Los Angeles this week, while billboards, bus shelter, phone kiosks and taxi top messages will surface soon. New York residents also will see subway and commuter rail car and station platform posters. Loew's Cineplex, AMC and other movie chains will run Sundance trailers, and in some theaters, play "10 Days" promos on flat-screen monitors near concession stands.

Multiple radio station buys, plus ads in such entertainment journals as Time Out New York
and Los Angeles, augment the effort.

Nationally, Sundance will conduct a six-week "Ten Degrees to Sundance" sweepstakes to attract the channel's core indie-loving and general-movie audiences. The idea: play a "Six Degrees" game online (at the channel's Web site www.sundancechannel.com), where a major feature is traced back to a past Sundance Film Festival attraction.

More than 5,400 Blockbuster Video stores will run contest displays, and distribute mini-magazines sponsored by Coca-Cola. Entertainment Weekly
will present an advertorial, linked to Blockbuster, Coca-Cola and Sony's Internet destinations, and a passel of on-air spots on Sundance Channel. The winner gets an all-expenses-paid trip to the 2004 festival, plus a prize package containing a Sony plasma TV and DVD player.

With its affiliates, Sundance will distribute 2 million direct-mail pieces, as well as cross-channel, print, online and radio ads among systems covering about 4 million households.

In Tampa, Fla., Time Warner Cable will offer new digital customers free Sundance-provided DVDs of the indie hit Scotland, PA. Sixteen affiliates elsewhere will run radio contests in partnerships with JetBlue Airlines or The North Face Co.

During the festival itself, Time Warner Cable's New York City system will sponsor updates and celebrity interviews on local radio outlet WPLJ, and parent AOL Time Warner's New York 1 News festival coverage with entertainment reporter George Whipple.

Sundance estimates the total promotion value of its "10 Days" campaign above $15 million. Iwanowski declined to enumerate how much the network will spend on the effort.

Another Sundance multimedia drive, over the March launch of its "DOCday" extended documentary block on Mondays, will start three weeks after the "10 Days" run ends. Iwanowski promises more ahead in mainstream film buff campaigning. "In a brand-consistent way, we're making a major investment for 2003 in direct-to-consumer advertising," he said.