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Discovery’s PHD Snags Video Deal for ‘Last One Standing’

Sep 26, 2007  •  Post A Comment

Discovery Channel is hoping a bit of the Halo video game fever will bring some heat to its new show “Last One Standing.”
In conjunction with this week’s highly anticipated release of the Halo 3 XBox game, Discovery’s media agency PHD made a deal with Microsoft to make Discovery the sponsor of the third short Halo video produced by “The Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson.
A “Last One Standing” micro-site, discovery.com/lastonestanding, will distribute the video exclusively for a week leading up to the show’s Oct. 4 launch. The network will be promoting the show and the Halo video to drive traffic to the site and push viewers to the channel.
Mr. Jackson’s Halo video is in three segments. The first two premiered at gamer conventions. With the third making its debut on Discovery’s site, it is expected to draw hundreds of thousands of users.
The use of the video should help Discovery connect with the hard-to-reach male 18-to-34 demographic, which the network sees as the prime target audience for the show. “Last One Standing” pits teams of American and British athletes against one another playing ancient tribal games.
“It really gives us this opportunity to get credibility with this audience and really connect with them,” said Chris Schembri, senior VP of media planning and partnerships for Discovery Communications. “The ability to show the video and be a part of the game is a unique tool for us.”
Discovery will be running more traditional media in order to generate tune-in for the show’s premiere. But with the Halo deal, online and interactive represent a bigger share of the media mix than usual, said Craig Daitch, director of interactive strategy at PHD.
“These are people that have an insatiable appetite for new and emerging technology, new and emerging media,” Mr. Daitch said.
Earlier this year, PHD had arranged a deal to promote another Discovery Channel show, “Future Weapons,” using another X Box game, “Gears of War.”
“We learned some pretty valuable lessons with ‘Gears of War’ and ‘Future Weapons’ in terms of what that audience was willing to provide us with if we were to provide them with compelling content and a compelling reason to watch. This really falls in line with that same ideology of, if you give an audience something of value, most likely they’re going to return the favor by giving you something of value,” Mr. Daitch said.
What Discovery wants is viewers for “Last One Standing.”
“I want people to tune in and watch a show that we think they’re going to thoroughly enjoy,” Mr. Daitch said.
Users who come to see the Halo video will see “Last One Standing” on the Web site. They’ll also see brief video spots for the show.
The site offers users a chance to enter a sweepstakes to win a special Halo edition Xbox or Halo games. To enter, users have to watch the “Last One Standing” premiere to get a special code. Users take that code back to the Web site to complete their entry.
The campaign “drives traffic to us for the exclusive video. It drives back to tune-in to get that code, and with that code go [back] to our site and enter and win,” said Anita Cheung, associate media director at PHD.
The Halo launch is a huge deal. In 2004, $125 million worth of Halo 2 games sold the first day on the market.
One estimate for first-day sales of Halo 3 is $150 million, more than any movie opening.
The third video shows the game’s protagonist, Master Chief, returning to the planet to help save humanity from hostile aliens. The video acts as a bridge between Halo 2 and Halo 3.
As the TV landscape becomes more cluttered and potential viewers harder to reach, Discovery has been searching for new approaches.
“We’ve been constantly pushing our agency partners and my immediate media team to delivery innovative, creative ideas,” Mr. Schembri said. “Our partners and the people we work with are aware that we’re seeking these types of ideas and are bringing them to the party.”
But Mr. Daitch cautioned that it’s important to match the right shows with the right online properties, no matter how big they were.
“One thing that we didn’t want to do is slap a killer Microsoft title to any show. We really felt that contextually, the show really matched the content of the game,” he said. “There’s so much white noise with Halo as it stands, and there are so many huge brands that have appended themselves to the Halo 3 experience. We really felt that we wanted to append ourselves to this, but we wanted to do it in a way that was completely different and in the spirit of Discovery, and we felt this was very close to that.”

20 Comments

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