VH1 is backing the upcoming third season of its Hard
Rock Live series with a multimillion-dollar promotional effort backed by American
Express Co., Hard Rock Cafe, Tower Records and Warner Bros. Domestic Pay-TV, Cable &
The aggressive cross-promotion will put Hard Rock Live in
front of customers visiting the 50 Hard Rock Cafes and scores of Tower stores across the
country, not to mention the millions of American Express cardholders who read their
monthly bill inserts.
But beyond that, the programming itself should help to
raise the profile of the series, according to VH1 senior vice president of marketing Jim
"We've never had a better lineup in terms of the
quality of the talent," Corboy said. "It's a terrific mix of classics in their
enduring years and other brand-new artists that help to keep our viewers current."
Grammy Award-winner Sheryl Crow will kick off the new
season Saturday, July 31, with four encore performances throughout the following week.
Other artists scheduled for the series include Santana, Meat Loaf, Melissa Etheridge and
Warner Bros., which produces the show, is heavily involved
in coordinating the cross-promotional effort.
"It's such a competitive marketplace that if you just
put out a show and hope somebody watches it, you're out of luck," Warner Bros.
executive vice president Eric Frankel said. "We really work our rear ends off to try
to get our names out there."
Last year's promotional campaign was valued at $10 million
to $20 million, Frankel added, "and this year will be even bigger."
The effort is designed to create a destination for the
series. "Historically, with music shows, you never knew when they'd be on,"
The more you can get potential viewers to sample the
product, the better, Corboy said, adding, "If you have to sneak in some big-screen
televisions, we'll do it."
Hard Rock Cafe runs VH1 shows such as Hard Rock Live on
big-screen televisions in its restaurants. VH1 also previews some of its programming for
music fans lucky enough to win tapings to the Hard Rock Live concerts.
Beginning in July, Tower Records will offer discounts on Hard
Rock Live-featured artists' compact discs to American Express cardholders, and it will
promote the offer through special point-of-purchase displays. The store will also promote
the series through its monthly Pulse! magazine.
The companies plan to release a Best of Hard Rock Live
CD later this year.
The multiple brand names don't take away from VH1, Corboy
said. "No one is competing for the same portion of the consumer's mind," he
"It's a case of one plus one plus one equals six,
rather than two or three," Frankel said. "You need that because in music
promotion, it's easy to get lost."
With the help of the show's sponsor, American Express,
Warner Bros. will promote the series next month on the sides of phone booths and buses in
large cities like New York and Los Angeles.
In related news, Sundance Channel is extending its
marketing partnership with Starbucks Corp. and Beyond Music this summer with the release
of a Sundance Channel CD slated to be named Where Music Meets Film. Artists include
Lyle Lovett, Blondie, Mike Younger and John Hiatt.
Until Aug. 30, the CD will be available only to new
subscribers who sign up for Sundance. After that, Starbucks will sell the CD at its stores
and on its Web site. Later this fall, the CD will be available to other retailers, as
Sundance also said it has expanded its relationship with
Blockbuster Video to bring its "Sundance Recommends" program to its more than
3,600 stores. Blockbuster will use Sundance-branded in-store signs to help direct
customers to independent films.