SoapNet Ready For Season Of Love

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The holiday season isn't over, but SoapNet has already shifted its focus to Valentine's Day.

In a search for a seasonal event it can “own,” the channel has developed a six-week promotion, beginning Jan. 4, it is calling Sugar-Free Valentines, highlighted by a viewer contest that will earn one fan a chance to win a perfect but “virtual boyfriend.”

Adam Rockmore, senior vice president of marketing for ABC Daytime and SoapNet, is a veteran of Food Network. That channel has its “Season's Eatings” seasonal programming and marketing, and Rockmore and his team wanted to find something similar for SoapNet. Daytime soaps are all about romance, so the team hung its promotion on Valentine's Day, but crafted it “with attitude — romance without the overly icky elements,” he joked.

The promotion is designed to coincide with the launch of the channel's latest original show, Greg Behrendt's Wake-Up Call, debuting Jan. 8 at 10 p.m. Behrendt will star in a series of romance-advice interstitials. For instance, the “relationship specialist” will suggest the three Cs women should focus on are not the cut, color and clarity of a diamond, but cooking, cleaning and communicating.

Other seasonally focused interstitials star soap actors sharing their worst or best pickup lines. The spots include filmed montage videos of songs such as I Got You, Babe and I Think I Love You.

For the contest, viewers will be directed to the SoapNet website for more content, including a feature 100 Reasons We Fell in Love with TV. That will include a picture gallery and articles about the best moments in soaps.

It is there also that viewers can enter the contest, by writing up the details of their worst dates. The “virtual boyfriend” will send the winner flowers, chocolates and jewelry and perhaps a romantic CD mix. Also, the winner will receive compliments and love note to her cellphone via text message.

Rockmore said channel executives are still developing the criteria by which they will judge the submissions, adding that SoapNet may post some of the tales for other viewers to read.

“We want to make this a franchise,” he said of the promotion, adding that the campaign could be expanded to include affiliate participation in 2010.

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