Dodge Revs Up Launch Night

Oct 4, 2004  •  Post A Comment

FX is driving home a point Monday night about how far it will go for its advertisers.

DaimlerChrysler’s Dodge division is the first marketer to take advantage of what the network is calling a Launch Night ad package that makes all of prime time a showcase for a new product or service.

The night starts off at 6 p.m. introducing “The Dodge Dakota Power Play.” Each show during the night is “Presented by Dodge.” Throughout the evening, Dodge will be the only carmaker on the network and will get dozens of brand messages, including vignettes illustrating Dakota’s selling points, on-screen graphics during the shows, bumpers and a spot in every commercial pod, until a thank-you message ends the evening and points viewers to Dodge’s Web site.

Episodes of “Fear Factor,” “King of the Hill” and movie “The Edge” were selected as compatible with the Dodge truck. FX has been promoting the stunt with spots that tease the new vehicle.

Bruce Lefkowitz, senior VP of entertainment sales at Fox Cable Networks Group, declined to say how much Dodge paid for the special treatment, but the network will sell Launch Night packages to advertisers willing to commit to spending more than $3 million over the course of a year.

Cable networks have proved to be more willing to create special opportunities for advertisers, and Mr. Lefkowitz began pitching Launch Night prior to the upfront in May. The extra effort-including the production expense-is a necessity for a network such as FX that is trying to take ad dollars from broadcasters and also has numerous competitors on cable.

“If you truly want to differentiate yourself from your competitors you have to invest in a partnership with the advertisers,” Mr. Lefkowitz said. “What this does for us is demonstrate our commitment to understand their brand, putting it in the proper environment and making sure it fits in with the network as well.”

When PHD, the Daimler-Chrysler media buying agency heard the idea, “we went crazy immediately because it fit in so well,” said Shannon Carrier, associate media director. Previously FX had not been a network Dodge bought in the upfront. She said the special package was attractive because it provide more opportunities to describe the Dakota’s selling points. “We’re looking to do more of this in the future,” she said.

FX produced the vignettes and interstitial material after consulting with Dodge about areas the automaker wanted to highlight.

“Here’s someone who embraced it as a true partner,” Mr. Lefkowitz said.

FX planned to offer a limited number of Launch Nights-about two per month. Mr. Lefkowitz said he sold about 60 percent of them in the upfront. Others remain available in the scatter market.

Limiting the number of Launch Nights helps prop up the price for the network, Mr. Lefkowitz said. And once advertisers see the quality of the production for Dodge, other advertisers will want to participate. “It’s one thing to see it on a PowerPoint slide. When we’re able to show this as a manifestation of what they’ve seen before, I think that really affects the supply and demand.”

Launch Night is one of a number of special ad packages that Fox Cable Networks has been offering to advertisers. It had sponsors for a commercial-free debut of “Rescue Me” and the season premiere of “Nip/Tuck.” This week, the makers of fat-burning supplement Stacker 2 will present the season finale of “Nip/Tuck” without commercial breaks.