USA Network Lets the Dogs Out

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USA Network is going to the dogs again: To boost consumer awareness for its upcoming live Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show
coverage beyond canine-competition enthusiasts, the network has developed a "We Love Dogs" consumer and trade-marketing push designed to attract those who favor pooches in general.

The network is doing more marketing than usual this year, to hammer home the show's status a "signature USA event," a spokeswoman said last Thursday.

Already a popular perennial — USA dubs it "the Super Bowl of Dog Shows" on its Web site — the event's coverage peaked at a 4.0 average Nielsen Media Research household rating (or more than 2.8 million homes) in 1998, which tied its 1996 record.

A year ago, the event posted a 3.6 average rating, which translates into 2.8 million-plus homes, the network said.

With six hours of live primetime coverage set for Feb. 11 to Feb. 12, the event will make its 19th annual appearance on USA. Joe Garagiola will host for the ninth year.

There will also be related features on USA's Web site (www.usanetwork.com). The site offers viewers a "sneak preview" of six planned on-air features, the opportunity to download a "We Love Dogs" computer-wallpaper design and a means to order the video of the 2002 show, as well as a tie-in book.

In a departure, USA has added a preview special, Westminster 2002: The First Look, due Feb. 10 at 7 p.m.

This year, the programmer will link the 126-year-old show in various ways to the search-and-rescue dogs that had participated in the World Trade Center recovery effort since Sept. 11.

USA, presenting sponsor Pedigree and the Westminster Kennel Club will pay tribute to the National Association for Search & Rescue via a package of on-air vignettes and an eight-page advertorial section in Us Weekly
and The New Yorker. The latter section will include such dog-loving celebrities as The Sopranos' James Gandolfini, Angie Harmon (formerly of Law & Order) and her husband, football player Jason Sehorn of the New York Giants, and actor Matthew Modine.

USA, Pedigree and Westminster also announced last week that they will donate a combined $275,000 to the NASR.

In another new wrinkle, USA has slated a pre-Westminster fundraiser event to honor the NASR canines — the first annual "Tea & Biscuits" Party/Silent Auction, on Feb. 6 at the American Park restaurant near "Ground Zero."

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