At NBCU, Green Means Green

Apr 12, 2009  •  Post A Comment

Miss USA is going green to kick off NBC Universal’s Earth Week.
NBC Universal has been able to generate tens of millions of dollars worth of sponsorship revenue during its Green Is Universal Earth Week in the spring and Green Week programming stunts in the fall. The Earth Week promotion is the company’s latest effort to mine the popularization of green values.
For the green pushes, the logos on the company’s networks and Web sites go green and environmental content makes its way into both news and entertainment programming.
On the Miss USA broadcast April 19, host Billy Bush will wear a green tie and co-host Nadine Velazquez will be wearing a green dress. The winner will be crowned with a tiara bejeweled with eco-friendly stones.
Shari Post, VP for prime-time sales at NBC and Green Is Universal, said more than 20 advertisers are participating in the Earth Week promotion. That builds on a corps of about 40 companies that have been involved with the studio’s various green efforts.
The scale of NBC Universal’s green promotions sets it apart from other media companies, such as CBS Corp. and Discovery Communications, which also have linked their programming and marketing to environmentally friendly themes. It’s a seam that hasn’t been tapped out yet.
“I would say that interest in sales for green is up significantly from a year ago” despite the overall slump in the ad market, Ms. Post said.
Research by NBC and by some of its sponsors shows environmental consciousness is a value that is surviving the recession. Consumers say they would spend more for something from a green company, even in this economic environment.
At a time when many marketers are cutting advertising budgets, it’s hard to tell whether the spending on green programs represents incremental gains or whether it comes at the expense of other marketing buys. Ms. Post said Green Is Universal has “definitely opened some doors for us and probably helped us secure dollars that we may not have gotten otherwise.”
Some sponsors are reinforcing their green messages with vignettes that break up commercial pods in an effort to foil commercial-skipping.
One set of interstitials for Honda features NBC primetime talents Zachary Levi, Eddie Steeples, Jake Weber, Bob Harper and Greg Grunberg talking about teaching their kids about the environment and green lifestyle choices.
In the fall, Subaru sponsored interstitials during Green Week. Spots running adjacent to the podbuster vignettes showed big increases in recall, brand recall, message recall and likability, said Maryam Banikarim, senior VP of integrated sales marketing at NBC Universal.
Another Earth Week advertiser is Kohler, which will be one of the sponsors of “Future Earth,” a series of four documentaries on MSNBC that kicks off April 26.
NBC Universal’s “The More You Know” public service campaign also will sport a green theme and be associated with a sponsor, which declined to be identified.
During Earth Week, NBC Universal will be kicking off a new slogan, “Green Lives Here,” that will be adapted for different platforms and programs. The line will become “Green Reigns Here” for Miss USA, “Green Invests Here” on CNBC, and “Green Laughs Here” in late night.
Sponsors also will be able to employ the slogan. For example, a retailer could say “Green Saves Here” to tie in its message with Green Is Universal.
NBC Universal is not the only media company observing Earth Week.
Discovery Communications’ TLC will air one-hour special “Jon & Kate Plus 8 Go Green!” in which the Gosselin family is joined by Steve Thomas, host of “Renovation Nation” on Planet Green, the company’s channel devoted to environmental issues.
On Earth Day, Nickelodeon will premiere green-themed episodes of “iCarly,” “True Jackson, VP,” “The Wonder Pets!,” “Olivia,” and “Wow! Wow! Wubbzy” with green themes. Nick’s commercial-free network for preschoolers, Noggin, will have ecology messages in new episodes of “You Gabba Gabba!,” “Toot & Buddle” and “Pinky Dinky Doo!”


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