In this second in a series of columns on local sales promotion, GM John Hannon tells how his Acme station earned a cut of the ad spending by local comestic surgeons and dentists by producing its own half-hour special on plastic surgery.
Time had taken its toll on Mr. Potato Head. His skin was sagging, his nose had fallen and his eyes were all over the place. Clearly he needed some work done, so he agreed to go under John Hannon’s knife.
But don’t let Hannon’s surgical scrubs fool you. He’s not a doctor. He just played one at the NAB Small Market Television Exchange last month for its Best of the Best sales promotion competition. Hannon is actually VP and general manager of Acme Communications’ WBDT Dayton, Ohio, and he performed potatoplasty at the competition to make a point: namely, that WBDT’s Plastic Surgery: Uncut campaign deserved to win. With the help of his showmanship, it almost made it, too. Toledo’s WNWO won by, well, a nose.
But the conference attendees’ voting was so close that the NAB created a special second-place honor for WBDT, which also made the final four in last year’s competition.
“Plastic Surgery:Uncut is the easiest sales opportunity we’ve ever created,” Hannon told TVNewsCheck, but it’s also one of the boldest. It sprung from envy—envy at how rival stations leveraged beauty makeover shows into lucrative local sales. “We just didn’t have the content where cosmetic surgeons could advertise.” So WBDT produced a primetime special of its own.
Hannon contacted The Daily Buzz, the syndicated morning news show carried by WBDT and 139 other stations. The Daily Buzz was only too happy to help—after all, the show is co-owned by Acme Communications, which launched it experimentally in 2002 on WBDT before relocating production to Orlando, Fla.
Hosted by Daily Buzz co-anchor Andrea Jackson, the Plastic Surgery:Uncut half-hour special aired three times on WBDT with additional content streaming on the station’s Web site. Each segment contained interviews with Dayton-area cosmetic surgeons—as well as plenty of commercials for cosmetic surgery and dentistry clinics as well ads for such “lunchtime procedures” as chemical face lifts and Botox injections. DVD copies of the special were also given to local cosmetic surgeons—a useful sales tool for both the medical practices and for WBDT. To see several clips from the special, click here.
Hannon estimates the special project netted $62,000 in new revenue, much of it at the expense of local buys that would otherwise have run on The Swan, Dr. 90210 or Discovery Health. Total production costs to WBDT? Nearly zero, thanks to a clever deal allowing Daily Buzz to offer the national footage in the show to other stations for a mere $1,995. So far there have been 11 takers—a win-win-win for Daily Buzz, WBTV and the other stations that have adopted the campaign.
Although WBDT has yet to win the “Best of the Best” competition, its innovative promotions have made John Hannon a celebrity of sorts at NAB’s Small Market Exchange. Hannon clearly relishes the opportunity to share his ideas there. “It’s inspiring to see so many great ideas introduced in the competition, and a treat to hear how other stations have benefited from our own ideas, and often improved them.”
Speaking of which, Hannon is already building on this year’s success. “I’m thinking we can extend Plastic Surgery: Uncut to include some public service by showcasing local surgeons and dentists who donate their time and talents to Operation Smile and similar charitable projects.”
Now, there’s a sales promotion idea guaranteed to make everybody smile.
Market Share is a series on successful station promotions that appears every Monday. At first, our subjects will be drawn from the nominees for NAB’s Best of the Best sales promotions competition. But we’re on the lookout for other good ideas for increasing local revenue. If you have one (or more) to share, please contact Arthur Greenwald at [email protected]