Reality CheckWild Postings

Forget Survivor and When Pets Attack. “We’re the market leader in real-life drama,” says Jana Bennett, general manager at TLC, the cable company that runs The Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and other nonfiction outlets. That’s the basis for the cable net’s “Are you human?” branding effort. The challenge for TLC’s media agency, Creative Media, was how to translate the client’s “life unscripted” themeline into a complementary and impactful media strategy.

The solution, according to Creative Media planning director Enza Chiodi, was to build a plan based on media that echoed the spontaneity of unscripted living. In TV, for example, that meant not buying dayparts but specific programs, like David Letterman and Politically Incorrect, in which, of course, all sorts of things that could lead to the question “Are you human?” can happen. Sports programming, naturally, was another major part of the $20 million effort.

Manhattan is also a metaphor for life unscripted, and it was seeded with wild postings. Aerial banners flew over beaches, outdoor concerts and other public gatherings. Even print was chosen with an eye toward unscripted editorial, such as on-the-town columns.

Since this media strategy has been so successful, the branding campaign is now being incorporated into TLC’s tune-in advertising.