Sundance Goes Green


Sundance Channel is thinking green in a new campaign highlighting programming on a hot topic: ecology.

The environmental focus is a reaction to research data on the evolution of the Sundance brand, according to Kirk Iwanowski, executive vice president of branded entertainment and sponsorship. Research by the firm Millward Brown demonstrated that attention to issues related to environmental sustainability are considered by viewers to be “part of the DNA” of the channel's brand, Iwanowski said.

One of the highest-profile elements in the campaign, dubbed “The Green,” is a public-service announcement starring channel founder Robert Redford. The film icon introduces the campaign and directs viewers to the channel Web site (, where viewers can download an “eco-tips” guide that offers suggestions on pro-environment lifestyle changes consumers can make. The “green” programming will also debut on affiliates' video-on-demand platforms as the shows become available on the linear channel.

Redford also filmed customized PSAs for affiliates that have agreed to host The Green material on their broadband portals. Participants include Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox Communications, Bright House Networks and DirecTV.

The effort is supported on air with a weekly programming block that will debut April 17. The lead-off program is Big Ideas for a Small Planet, a 13-episode series on lifestyle areas in which individuals can make a difference. For instance, an episode titled “Drive” will discuss hybrid and electric cars.

The ecological programming effort will be guided by an advisory committee of more than 20 organizations and individuals active in the environmental community. Supporting organizations include the Sierra Club, World Wildlife Fund, Natural Resources Defense Council and the League of Conservation Voters, among other organizations. Individual members include cable veteran Pat Mitchell, president of the Museum of Television and Radio; Robert Kennedy Jr., president of the Waterkeeper Alliance; and Laurie David, wife of writer-director Larry David, representing the NRDC.

The Sundance Channel will introduce a national consumer promotion tied to The Green in April. Viewers will be invited to submit ideas for greener living, in the form of a one-minute film, to Sundance at its Web site. Consumers and members of the advisory board will vote on the best “big ideas.” The winner will receive a $10,000 cash prize and a one-year lease on a Lexus hybrid car.

Lexus and financial adviser Citi Smith Barney are the initiative's corporate sponsors.