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Hula festivals and Miss Hawaii: Local focus keeps stations seeing green

Mar 18, 2002  •  Post A Comment

TV advertisers in Honolulu are interested in linking themselves to local events that are part of Hawaii’s native culture.
“We’re right now in the midst of selling our Merrie Monarch Hula Festival, which is the top cultural Hawaiian event in the market every year,” said KITV General Manager Mike Rosenberg. KITV is the only station that airs the annual festival. This year, the festival runs April 4 to 6. It will air from 6 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. all three nights.
“We’ve broadcast it for close to 20 years,” Mr. Rosenberg said. “This year it seems to be as popular as ever-even more popular for advertisers. Last year, the festival was in the May rating book, and we did really big Olympics-type numbers. And I also think local advertisers in this type of economy feel it’s important to be identified with local events and local people. We have 20 different advertisers signed up already.”
KITV also put together a big ad campaign with the University of Hawaii’s community college system, which has several colleges in that state. The university was having trouble attracting students to the community colleges, so KITV came up with a creative package solution. KITV put together an information section about the colleges on its Web site, which is co-run by Internet Broadcasting Systems. The college then ran television commercials to talk about the colleges and direct potential students to the Web site for more information.
“In Honolulu, you have some more creative and promotion-minded TV stations. When you’ve been in an 11-year flat market recession, your entire market has to be creative,” said KHNL-TV General Manager John Fink. “Any time we can showcase anything uniquely Hawaiian and have local advertisers stand out from the crowd, we’re very amenable to do that.”
Mr. Fink runs a duopoly in the market with NBC affiliate KHNL and UPN/WB affiliate KFVE-TV. “Local broadcasters always talk about branding themselves and differentiating. We have the No. 1 product in town, and we also produce more local programming than anyone in town.”
Local programs that air on the duopoly include the local Prince Lot Hula Festival; the Hoku Awards, the market’s version of the Grammys for local musicians, which gets a 10 to 15 rating and airs annually in May; and the Miss Hawaii pageant.
“Clients want to be involved in local product,” Mr. Fink said. “Ican’t control `ER,’ `Friends’ or `West Wing.’ I can provide quality local product.”
Mr. Fink said Honolulu is more dependent on local advertisers than other markets, with 75 percent local and 25 percent national sales.
“Television here is the retail medium. You’ll see a lot of advertisers on television that traditionally might not be able to afford it,” said Jack Bates, CEO of Starr Seigle Communications, a local ad agency. “There’s a fair amount of direct selling here. Part of that is we have more clutter, because of the tape delay of programming. It allows some of the network stations to add additional time.”
According to BIA Financial Network, Honolulu TV revenues for 2001 were about $62.9 million and are expected to be $66 million in 2002. Top ad categories are auto, fast food, telecommunications and beverages.