Sundance Crafts Digital-Cable Upgrade Push

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Sundance Channel is teaming with sister company Sundance Catalog for its summertime digital-cable-upgrade marketing campaign.

The effort — the first time the two entities have worked together on the promotion — will include "a handcrafted offer," involving a 20 percent discount on online catalog purchases for new digital-cable subscribers, said Sundance Channel senior vice president of marketing Kirk Iwanowski.

Sundance Channel's digital-upgrade push will run from June 1 through June 30, he said. The campaign, featuring customized MSO promotional materials, will tout the creativity of the network's independent filmmakers along with the catalog's distinctive collection of handmade wares. For the past two years, Sundance has joined forces with Amazon.com as its promo partner.

Through April 16, Sundance had signed 27 affiliates to participate, a new high. The final deadline is May 6.

Among those already set: AT&T Broadband in Boston, Salt Lake City and Sacramento, Calif.; Charter Communications Inc. in Long Beach, Calif.; Comcast Corp. in Nashville, Tallahassee and Sarasota, Fla.; Cox Communications Inc. in New Orleans, Oklahoma City and Pittsburgh; and Time Warner Cable in New York, Austin, Houston and San Antonio, Texas.

According to Iwanowski, Sundance — now in some 14 million homes — once again chose June for its upgrade effort because "summer is always a decent time for digital and premium acquisition campaigns and [a time] when the major broadcast networks are in rerun."

Co-promotion elements include cross-channel spots, radio scripts, print ad slicks and direct-mail postcards, as well as Internet banners and e-mail blasts.

The ads — which read, "Subscribe to Sundance Channel on digital cable and get 20 percent off your next purchase from Sundance Catalog online" — will feature images from such upcoming films as Billy Elliot, Lone Star, The Virgin Suicides
and You Can Count on Me.

Affiliates are being offered two marketing options. One is the use of direct mail supported by at least 250 cross-channel spots, at least 75 percent of which must run in primetime on some 20 suggested analog or digital networks — including A&E Network, Discovery Channel, Lifetime Television and WE: Women's Entertainment.

Under the second option, affiliates would run at least 350 promos, again mainly in primetime, along with radio, print, direct mail, Internet and e-mail.

The catalog, featuring merchandise with a western flavor and wares from Native American cultures, offers everything from home-and-garden furniture and apparel to jewelry and footwear.

"This is a very targeted campaign," Iwanowski observed. Sundance suggests that affiliates target women ages 35 to 50 in upscale households, given the catalog's appeal.

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