Scripps Network has signed Ford, SC Johnson and Orbitz as sponsors of its “Summer for Life” programming and market effort, which for the first time will incorporate all five of its networks and their related Web sites.
Each of the networks-HGTV, Food Network, DIY-Do It Yourself, Fine Living and Great American Country-will run 40 hours of programming using the “Summer for Life” theme beginning June 10. Some of that programming will be specials; the rest will be episodes of regular series that fit in with the theme.
The key sponsors will get category exclusivity when those shows air, and will also get tagged tune-in promos, tagged sweepstakes spots, “brought to you by” billboards, custom integrated interstitial programming material and on-screen promos tagged with the sponsor’s name.
Scripps plans to drive viewers to the shows with an umbrella marketing effort headlined and hosted by country singer LeAnn Rimes. The company also plans a $1 million sweepstakes.
Summertime was chosen as a theme because it fit naturally with the content on the Scripps Networks, said Jon Steinlauf, senior VP ad sales.
“A lot of the country really looks at July and August as two months where they can do things outside they can’t the rest of the year,” Mr. Steinlauf said. “So we decided, because our brands are authorities and they’re resources in things like culinary and entertaining and outdoor design and outdoor home improvement projects, and now music and festival and state fairs, that we would cobble this all together into a two-week programming event.”
Scripps began selling “Summer for Life” during the upfront last spring.
“For an advertiser, it’s a platform for companies to launch a lot of these summer marketing initiatives,” Mr. Steinlauf said. “What better platform than going to these five brands that are known as the resource for so many different lifestyle categories and blanketing those five channels for a couple of weeks with your spots with your billboards, with your interstitials, with integration and the like, and their Web sites and broadband streams and have it all come together with this million-dollar cash giveaway?”
Terms of the deals were not disclosed, but Scripps required advertisers to buy time on all five networks and their sites. Getting advertisers to increase the number of networks on which they advertise was one of the program’s objectives. The company also wanted to increase its share of those advertisers’ spending.
“We want to encourage clients to test the waters at as many of our networks as make sense,” Mr. Steinlauf said.
In the case of Ford, the automaker is using different networks to support different brands. Ford’s Lincoln division will be promoted on Food and DIY, Ford Truck on GAC and Volvo on HGTV and Fine Living.
“What was very interesting to me was a cross-network promotion of a series of channels that are very experientially based,” said Randi Wagner, chief marketing officer at Orbitz. Viewers of those networks are “people who are actively interested in creating great experiences in their life, and that’s what travel is all about.”
Summer is also a time when people think of travel, and Orbitz is in the process of offering a new service called Orbitz TLC, Ms. Wagner said.
Scripps’ package deal made buying easier, and Orbitz will advertise on some channels it might not have considered previously, she said, adding that another important feature of the deal was being integrated into the Scripps Web sites.
Some Summer Still Left
Scripps isn’t done selling “Summer for Life” yet. Mr. Steinlauf said he hopes to add sponsors in the retail and credit card categories before the initiative airs.
“Summer for Life” will be tied together by wraps, performed by Ms. Rimes, before and after the themed episodes and specials air. She’ll also do promo spots and print ads. (In addition to its cable networks and Web sites, Scripps newspapers and TV stations will be involved in the promotion.)
Each network’s Web site will have an interactive “Summer for Life” area. That will also be the entry point for the sweepstakes. “When users go on the Web site there will be ads, there will be adjacencies and there will be additional content, and there’ll be the ability also to click through to the sponsor’s site,” Mr. Steinlauf said.
Broadband commercials may also be part of the online mix.
“We’re excited about the reaction we’ve gotten so far in terms of both the production of the specials and the themed series, and the sponsorship reaction to it,” Mr. Steinlauf said.
“It is a little more complicated to sell this because it’s the first time we’ve done a major event on all five networks, and it required three separate sales forces to coordinate,” he said.
HGTV and DIY are sold by one team, Food and Fine Living by a second. GAC has its own sales force.
Mr. Steinlauf looks at “Summer for Life” as Scripps’ version of the Olympics, with related programming running on all of the networks and Web sites, while staying on brand. The company has considerable experience pushing viewers from a network to a Web site and back again, but this will be the first time it really explains to viewers that networks like HGTV and Food are related with the same corporate parent.
Scripps is already making plans for a similar event next year that will be sold in the upcoming upfront.
“It will be a little easier for all of us-the network as well as sales-to be able to explain the overall concept and the value,” he said.
Scripps’ Seasonal Shows
Highlights of Scripps Networks programming scheduled to be part of the company’s “Summer for Life” initiative.