Oxygen Media is getting more aggressive with its outreach initiative aimed at helping women defend themselves against violent crime.
The program, “Fight Like a Girl,” has grown from a single promotional stunt in 2001 in New York City to self-defense events, hosted by such affiliates as Charter Communications, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, RCN and Bresnan Communications, around the country.
Crime statistics suggest that in 70% of cases where women fight back against their attackers, they are able to improve their situation or prevent violent crime from occurring.
“We’ve run the program over 40 times since the kickoff in New York City,” said Oxygen executive vice president of affiliate sales Mary Murano, who noted that well over 3,000 women participated in the various markets in 2006. “When you think about why, it’s a really easy-to-execute community-affairs program.”
Oxygen — which Murano said will double its resources against the initiative in 2007 and anticipates a like increase in the number of participants around the nation — provides affiliates with most of what they need to get an event up and running, from promotional materials to suggestions on how to advertise in a local market. Among the components: taggable 10- and 20-second spots; customizable press releases; branded T-shirts; customizable fliers; signs and other collateral materials; online banners and e-mail blasts. Oxygen also supplies the necessary participant liability forms and a toll-free RSVP number.
This year, Murano said Oxygen has refreshed those elements, offering all new graphics, on-air spots and video footage of a self-defense class in action.
The network also encourages affiliates to include a promotional page on their Web sites, enlist local radio stations to flag the initiative and run cross-channel promotions during the two weeks leading up to the event.
The outreach program’s debut was much more basic — a promotional stunt celebrating Oxygen’s launch on Time Warner Cable in New York City, on channel 61 back in 2001.
“It was tied to Xena: Warrior Princess, which was very popular with our viewers,” said Murano. “We had the exclusive rights to Xena at the time.”
To promote the show and the new channel, Oxygen offered free self-defense classes for women in select yoga studios at New York City’s Chelsea Piers. Over a two-week period, the classes attracted some 2,500 women.
“Eventually, we separated it from the Xena thematic, and basically wrapped it up in Oxygen branding and graphics,” said Murano. “Another beautiful thing about Fight Like a Girl — one of the comments was that it appeals to everyone. Women bring their friends, their mothers, their daughters, women of all ages.”
The venues now range from small health clubs and YMCAs to schools and women’s expos. Locations run the gamut from small markets in the Southeast to large metropolitan areas like Los Angeles. “A nice thing about the program is it is so flexible,” said Murano.
GULF COAST PERENNIAL
Cox Communications’s Gulf Coast region has been a steadfast supporter for the past four years. Two or three weeks before the annual event, the operator runs hundreds of cross-channel promotions and posts fliers in female-oriented businesses. Last summer, Cox also pitched articles to local magazines and ran promotional crawls on The Weather Channel. The result: about 80 attendees at the Tae Kwan Do Academy in Pensacola, Fla.
“Actually we have had the same police officers be the instructors each year,” said Cox marketing promotions specialist Michelle Saiter. “We’ve done it four years in a row now and at this point they’ve just really perfected it.”
She said Cox has changed locations a few times to lend exposure to different parts of its Gulf Coast region, but the success rate has remained consistent.
“I think the biggest benefit of the program, is not only does it benefit Cox, but we actually sell the event location,” said Saiter. “So it’s a revenue opportunity for us and it benefits the client, because all these customers are coming in the door. And then, of course, Oxygen gets a ton of exposure as well.”
Saiter expected the Cox region’s next “Fight Like a Girl” event to take place in August.
Other upcoming programs include one in Richmond, Va. on March 10, sponsored by Comcast, and one scheduled by RCN in Chicago for sometime during the second quarter.
The most recent event was set for this past Saturday, Jan. 20, at the Keller Pointe activity center in Keller, Texas.
With the support of Charter, the American Defensive Arts Academy in the Keller Pointe center expected to host two classes instructing 100 females, age 12 and older.
Information on how to plan a “Fight Like a Girl” event is available at www.oxygenaffiliates.com.