They all need to get out there and take full advantage of the hit reality show with value-added advertising and smart promotions.
If a friend surprised you with a generous gift, you would naturally respond with an effusive thank you. So ABC must be feeling a little miffed that more affiliates aren’t expressing appreciation for that shiny chunk of primetime bling known as Dancing With The Stars. Despite a 13.7 rating and 21 share, relatively few are rewarding the third-ranked prime time program with the extra promotion it deserves.
And too many ABC stations may be missing the chance to leverage Dancing’s success to build their own bottom lines. The network’s Los Angeles flagship station, KABC, is arguably a case in point. Now make no mistake, Dancing is featured prominently on KABC’s first-rate Web site. There’s a front page Dancing graphic that links to the station’s branded menu page of streamed primetime programs—all generically-sponsored by the Jack in the Box fast food chain.
The station also has a dedicated promo page for the show, but it’s reachable only through a banner ad which appears in a corner of the television listings page—and then only through a pull-down sub-menu displayed under the Entertainment button. In other words, you’ve got to know it’s there.
But Dancing fans who find it are treated to a wealth of features, including a downloadable ballot, video profiles, a quiz about celebrity contestants and a flash-animated listing of SoCal’s Hottest Dance Spots—that is, if your cursor happens to wander there. In a city with hundreds of hot clubs, this could be a rich source of added revenue. But try to click on a dance club for more info and the whole list disappears.
According to KABC Director of Web Operations David Piechowski these features, including local dance listings, were actually provided by the network’s O&O division. I noticed that recently the station added a sponsorship to this page, exhorting viewers to “Follow Your Favorites” with Time Warner Cable. Clicking on the logo, however, merely opens a window to the generic Time Warner Cable home page—with no further mention of Dancing, or fan favorites as one might expect.
You might also expect that Dancing would be a value-added gold mine in the No. 2 DMA for both advertisers and the station. That was certainly the conclusion in DMA 54, New Orleans, where the ABC affiliate is Tribune’s WGNO. The station’s easy-to-navigate Web site is not as fancy as KABC’s, but it does do a more thorough job of exploiting the sales potential of Dancing.
The show is featured prominently on the WGNO home page—along with a link to local sponsor, LAS Windows, a home improvement contractor. Account Executive Brandy Marks signed them up prior to the show’s premiere last summer. “They really liked the family-friendly nature of the program, especially when the audience grew bigger every week. We developed a package that guarantees a spot in every episode, including the finale, along with 10-second tune-in promos that feature their logo.”
The sponsor couldn’t be happier. “The demographics really target the people we market to, especially homeowners and people in their 30s through 50s,” says LAS Windows’ Lisa Maia. “We always ask our customers where they heard about us and usually they’ll cite our commercial on Dancing With the Stars.”
Currently there’s no mention of the show on the LAS Web site, but that’s scheduled to change soon in a major re-design. Right now, LAS has an exclusive deal, although Marks reports that other clients want to muscle in. Meanwhile, the station supports the show with recaps on its late news and additional coverage of such local tie-ins as the New Orleans performance of the Dancing With The Stars Live Tour, organized by ABC.
Speaking of which, one reason stations may have been slow to create additional Dancing promotions is that ABC’s own Dancing Web site appears to have all the promotional bases covered, including:
- Streaming video of the previous week’s episode plus video clips.
- A downloadable elimination chart.
- Dedicated message boards.
- A guide to the various dance steps.
- Merchandise for sale.
There’s even a play along Fantasy Dancing contest, where the online champion and a guest win a four-day trip to Los Angeles, including airfare, hotel plus two private dance lessons.
But they’ve topped that in Pittsburgh. Hearst Argyle’s WTAE has created its own contest with one of the region’s largest advertisers, Giant Eagle supermarkets. The WTAE grand prize matches ABC’s and throws in a $500 gift card to cover ground transportation and meals.
Director of Sales Bob Bee has been working at WTAE for 25 years and can’t remember a show with broader appeal than Dancing With The Stars. “This is broadcast TV at its finest. We’re not micro-marketing to some elusive target demo. This show is kid-friendly, senior-friendly. ÃƒÂ¢Ã¢â€šÂ¬Ã‚Â¦You can practically drive down any street and see that everyone has it on in their living room. It’s perfect for a supermarket.”
While declining to reveal the cash value of the Giant Eagle buy, Bee acknowledged it is “substantial” and “includes spots in every [Dancing] show on every night plus separate contest promos and a flight of post-contest spots to congratulate the winners.”
WTAE is also looking to extend its local promotion and sponsorships to include online voting, text messaging and mobile video clips. Says Bee, “This is the model everyone talks about but almost never achieves. The big stick sends out a signal to, well, everyone. Then the secondary audiences kick in on computer, cell phone, PDA. The ABC [streaming] video player and message boards are the new water cooler.”
Sounds like a model other ABC affiliates would be wise to emulate as soon as possible. Right after they take a minute to send that nice Anne Sweeney a thank you note.
Market Share by Arthur Greenwald highlights successful station promotions every Monday in TVNewsCheck. Got some fancy footwork in your own station promotions? Why not strut your stuff in Market Share? Write to Arthur at [email protected].