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Buena Vista promotes `Iyanla’ via infomercial

Aug 20, 2001  •  Post A Comment

Before viewers saw “Iyanla” the talk show, many of them saw “Iyanla: A New Beginning.”
Buena Vista Television bought more than five hours of infomercial time on The Discovery Channel, E! Entertainment Television and Lifetime Television for multiple runs of “A New Beginning.” Sal Sardo, Buena Vista’s executive vice president of marketing, said the program is less infomercial and more half-hour special in the mold of “Headliners & Legends” or “Biography.”
In addition, the special was shipped to all 152 TV stations on which “Iyanla” debuted Aug. 13. Approximately 60 percent of the stations, which could sell the eight minutes of commercial time in the half-hour, aired “A New Beginning,” with some running it more than once.
The theory behind this new twist on talk-show promotion: To know Iyanla Vanzant-the up-by-the-bootstraps heroine behind a string of inspirational best-sellers-is to love her.
The promotional special, which no one can recall having been used before to market a talk show, was but one part of distributor Buena Vista’s campaign for the show. In addition to the usual media buys, there were “Iyanla” displays in book stores where she’s been a motivational staple since the early ’90s.
Shampoo aprons promoting “Iyanla” also were distributed to 2,500 beauty salons in the top 20 markets. An incentive for the salon owners to participate was a drawing, which Mr. Sardo said included “pretty incredible prizes” such as a diamond bracelet and a trip to New York.
“It’s the biggest daytime launch we’ve ever had,” said Mr. Sardo, who estimated the cost of the cable time buys as “in the neighborhood of 30 [percent] to 35 percent” of the national media buys promoting “Iyanla.”
In the two weeks prior to the show’s early launch on Aug. 13, the “Iyanla” special ran at least twice on Discovery, at least three times on E! and four times on Lifetime, which was scheduled to telecast it twice again the weekend of Aug. 19 and 20.
Because Buena Vista wanted the half-hour to feel more like a program about Ms. Vanzant than a long commercial for her show, the decision was made to limit the “Iyanla” plugs to one per commercial pod. The rest of the three pods were filled with commercials for other Disney products, from home videos and theme parks to ABC programming.
“To load it with overt and direct promotion would really kind of take away from the story itself,” Mr. Sardo said. “Our primary intent was to introduce her to these audiences who were unfamiliar with her.”