History Putting Emphasis on the Contemporary

Mar 30, 2008  •  Post A Comment

History is turning a page.
The channel is launching a new image campaign this month using the theme “History. Made Every Day.” to highlight its more contemporary programming under Nancy Dubuc, who has been president for 15 months.
Powered by such series as “Ice Road Truckers,” which drew 4.8 million viewers for its finale, and “Ax Men,” which premiered with 2.7 million viewers on March 9, History had its best first quarter ever, tying for 11th place among ad-supported cable networks in total viewers. Specials including “Life After People,” which attracted 5.4 million viewers, helped to pump up the numbers.
The new programming lowered the median age of History’s male-dominated viewership by a year to 50.
The A&E Television Networks channel’s new campaign is designed to continue that growth, retain core viewers and catch the attention of ad buyers as the upfront ad-buying season nears.
Some ad buyers already like the network, which recently dropped the tag “Channel” from its moniker, because it offers an alternative to ESPN for reaching male viewers.
“They’ve done a nice job,” said Jason Kanefsky, senior VP for broadcast at MPG. “I can reach a different audience than I can reach on ESPN.”
Ms. Dubuc said the new ad campaign was designed to keep the brand “in step with the times, which is important for any media brand to do. You have to stay contemporary.”
The campaign was supervised by Chris Moseley, who was hired as senior VP of marketing by Ms. Dubuc last June. Ms. Moseley conducted research to ensure that changes would sit well with the channel’s core audience and called the result a program-driven image campaign.
“The programming is the story. But the branding has to be in synch,” Ms. Moseley said. “I have found in the past brands who do brand campaigns that aren’t linked with content sometimes just go over people’s heads.”
The spots show men featured in History shows, such as Don Wildman of “Cities of the Underworld,” with the headline “Men Like Don Make History.” Close-up portraits accentuate their authenticity, an important attribute for the network.
The people used in History’s programming and ad campaign help shake the dust off the subject matter and make the brand relevant to viewers, said Ms. Dubuc.
“We wanted to reinforce that for people so that they understand that history is happening around them all the time,” she said.
The campaign also has a navigation bar graphic that lists the network’s series, highlighting the show featured in the ads.
“It’s important for us to show the depth and breadth of what we’re doing,” Ms. Dubuc said. “If the creative makes them stop, the nav bar tells them there’s a lot there.”
The name change to History away from the History Channel may shake some mustiness off the brand.
“That makes a lot of sense for us because in a multiplatform world we are History.com and we have a brand of History beyond linear TV,” Ms. Dubuc said.
The network’s logo also has been changed. While the gold “H” hasn’t been touched, the red box that surrounded it has been changed to an underline.
Ms. Dubuc declined to say how much money was being spent on the campaign, but said it would be bigger than any push for an individual show on the network this year.
“The campaign is big and has to reach pretty wide,” said Ms. Moseley. In addition to appearing on its own air, History has bought space in “all of the traditional places where our guys go,” she said, including spot TV, print and outdoor. “Look for us in March Madness,” she said, adding that while CBS wouldn’t sell the channel national commercials, it was able to buy local spots in large markets.
The campaign also will have an extensive online component.
“Everyone’s spending more money in digital,” she said.

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