Nonprofit partners: Public service pays dividends

Sep 9, 2002  •  Post A Comment

Cause-related marketing partnerships with nonprofit organizations are driving TV ad revenue upward in the Baltimore market.
Fox News Corp.’s UPN affiliate, WUTB-TV, does three community projects each year. Just recently it launched “Collecting for Kids,” a back-to-school campaign with the Maryland Department of Education for which it collects school supplies for needy Baltimore children.
“We promote it on our air as, `When buying school supplies, pick up an extra ruler and drop it in the box,”’ said Station Manager Michael Miller. “We have collection bins in Walgreen’s locations for that. In four years we have collected four tons of supplies.” PepsiCo and Utz Potato Chips are co-sponsors.
“Since we don’t have news, we don’t have a voice every night in the market as other stations do,” Mr. Miller said. “So we are finding different avenues to generating revenue. It helps us be a part of business we might not ordinarily participate in.”
Another annual WUTB campaign includes the “Safe & Secure” umbrella campaign with three components throughout the year: fire safety in the home, such as how to properly dispose of a Christmas tree; child safety, which includes how to properly install car seats for children; and water safety.
“It is all about educating the public,” Mr. Miller said. “We’ll even do an event where people can come and ask questions,” Mr. Miller said.
Barbara Patz, president of Patz Marketing, a Baltimore ad agency that primarily represents automotive dealers, said, “My clients are always looking for us to come up with ideas that will not only get their message across but transfer into a community orientation and event marketing.”
Ms. Patz was able to tie in 10 auto dealers last year with WUTB’s December “Food for Families” campaign for the Maryland Food Bank. “We capped it off with Tony `the Goose’ Siragusa [a Baltimore Ravens player who retired last season] signing autographs at the dealerships,” she said. “To get an autograph you had to bring in food. We ended up with truckloads of food.”
Such campaigns “help television stations generate revenue, but also to donate their time and resources to worthwhile causes,” said Jay Newman, VP and general manager at WJZ-TV, the CBS affiliate owned by Viacom Television Stations Group.
Partnerships WJZ has formed include those with the Koeman Race for the Cure, an outreach to women with breast cancer, and the Kennedy Krieger Institute, which provides education for children with brain disorders.
Jordan Wertlieb, general sales manager at Hearst-Argyle’s NBC affiliate WBAL-TV, said the station is forming similar relationships, but is using convergence packages to help steer them. “We are very strategic in using our Web site, thewbalchannel.com, which has grown fivefold,” she said. “We are currently running a television campaign with the Anne Arundel school districts to bring awareness of employment opportunities, and with that partnering online with Hotjobs.com for opportunities in recruitment advertising.”
TV revenue in Baltimore is expected to jump to $215,000 in 2002 from $206,800 last year, according to BIA Financial Network data.