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Marketing Drive for Tune-In

Oct 3, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Discovery Channel next week plans to launch its most ambitious tune-in campaign since Discovery Network’s flagship service began its series-based programming strategy three years ago.

The six-week consumer-marketing effort, designed to capitalize on a recent improvement in ratings, is aimed at driving tune-in on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday evenings, when Discovery focuses on its series. It’s Discovery’s first campaign to include multiple series, said Julie Willis, senior VP of marketing for Discovery Channel. “This is the fullest slate of new and returning series we have had in a long time,” she said.

The campaign themed “Let’s All Discover” features six rotating spots with everyday people who have made interesting discoveries-such as the man who led the team that found the 10th planet and the developer of “The Clapper.” The shows are “American Chopper,” “Driver X” and “Monster Garage” on Mondays; “Dirty Jobs,” “Coast Guard Search and Rescue” and “American Firehouse” on Tuesdays and “MythBusters,” “Extreme Engineering” and “Beyond Boundaries” on Wednesdays.

About half the shows will have already premiered when the campaign starts, while the others will launch in October. New episodes run during the six weeks of the campaign.

The ads will run online, on TV and on radio on Mondays, Tuesdays and Wednesdays to drive viewers to the shows each night, but not on Thursday through Sunday.

“It’s meant to capture [potential viewers] all day long as they are thinking about what to watch on TV,” Ms. Willis said.

Online ads will run during workday hours on more than 14 sites, including major portals such as AOL and Yahoo!, and sites for Weather Channel, CBS Sportsline Fantasy Football and The Onion. Discovery will also use drive-time radio during morning and afternoon commutes in top 10 markets.

Once viewers are home, the network switches to TV advertising. Spots will run across most of Discovery’s 14 analog and digital networks, and also in top 10 markets on Spike TV, History Channel, ESPN, Comedy Central, USA and other cable networks, as well as CBS, NBC and ABC. National spots will run on satellite and on TV Guide Channel. Texas-based advertising agency TM Advertising, a division of Interpublic, created the spots.

“The media (purchase) is very day and date,” Ms. Willis said, adding that the spots also fold in a branding message with the “Let’s All Discover” component.

Last month the network’s prime-time ratings grew 13 percent in households, 20 percent in adults 25 to 54 and 67 percent in women 25 to 54 over September 2004. That’s an upward trend uptick after the ratings drop the network experienced at the start of the year.

Among the new shows, “Dirty Jobs” has been building momentum. It premiered July 26 and for the season to date has averaged a 1.1 household rating for adults 25 to 54, which is 105 percent higher than what Discovery attracted at the same time last year.

Launching a tune-in campaign in October when baseball playoffs are under way and viewers are still sampling new broadcast shows can be risky, said Brad Adgate, senior VP and director of research at Horizon Media. “It’s kind of unusual because most cable networks do these in the summer months,” he said. “But they are probably thinking the sooner the better.”

Ms. Willis said by the time the campaign starts on Oct. 10, the bulk of the new broadcast season will have hit.

Discovery Channel will measure the success of the campaign based on ratings and on a pre- and post-study on brand perception. “If people don’t watch the shows,” said Ms. Willis, “we haven’t done our jobs.”