By Allison J. Waldman
Special to TelevisionWeek
In the on-demand platform, Mag Rack is known for innovative, original programming, like its guitar instruction show “Guitar Xpress.” CTAM has recognized the marketing team at Mag Rack for “Walking With Johnny,” a campaign that promoted the Johnny Cash biopic “Walk the Line,” premiering on-demand via a special edition of “Guitar Xpress.”
“This was a partnership made in heaven because it was the opportunity for Mag Rack to showcase its premier original programming that is taking the lead in the VOD category, and it was able to really highlight another one of the greatest guitarists of all time,” said Sebastian Shap, director of marketing. “This is the sixth movie tie-in we’ve done, and over time Mag Rack has started infusing more and more original programming to bolster the show and make these programming blocks more compelling.”
“`Guitar Xpress’ built a whole programming philosophy that was relevant to our programming where we taught two great Johnny Cash classics-`Sunday Morning Coming Down’ and `Ring of Fire,”‘ said Mr. Shap. The show is hosted by Luther Dickinson, the Grammy-nominated lead guitarist for the North Mississippi Allstars. In each episode of “Guitar Xpress” he teaches viewers certain songs, including rock classics, and gives step-by-step guitar instruction. “It really works well within the VOD functionality because you can stop, rewind and fast-forward so that you can always keep up with the lesson, or practice something, or if you miss something, go back to it.”
The “Walking With Johnny” campaign included elements aside from the guitar lessons. “Guitar Xpress Presents Johnny Cash” was an in-depth retrospective of the music legend’s music and life with exclusive interviews with the Cash family, among others. “We went out and licensed vintage concert footage of Johnny Cash. We shot in Nashville with his family and a lot of famous country artists where we did exclusive interviews, and we actually had the whole block hosted by Tommy Cash, Johnny’s brother,” said Mr. Shap.
Believing that they had a compelling product that would sell the on-demand film as well as their show, the Mag Rack marketing team reached out to cable affiliates. “We used our strong sales team to get them excited about this promotion,” Mr. Shap said. “This was an opportunity to showcase Mag Rack as a real vehicle for supporting digital cable upgrades, as well as the platform. It was a way to drive incremental revenue for on-demand purchases.”
The results proved that Mag Rack had indeed created a dynamic campaign. “We increased viewership for `Guitar Xpress’ by 23 percent during that month and the original programming of `Ring of Fire’ increased dramatically,” Mr. Shap said. “It shows you how powerful on-demand is as a platform and how powerful it can be when original programming is used.
“There’s a methodology in terms of programming strategy and to the network’s providing original programming like we’ve been doing since day one. There’s a huge amount of opportunity for growth.”