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CMT Promo Backs Series Premiere

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NEW YORK Country Music Television has launched a buzz marketing campaign for its new variety show, Jeff Foxworthy's Big Night Out.

The Viacom-owned cable network will give away $50,000 for "a big night out" to the mother who delivers America's first baby during the show's premiere on Sept. 1. Another $1,000 will go to whoever identifies her, and $5,000 prizes are reserved for the first mom of each of the 11 subsequent episodes.

To track the maternity contest, CMT will link to nearly 4,000 hospital delivery rooms across the nation via local TV and radio stations. Outreach also includes classified ads in national magazines announcing the winning mother, ads on maternity Web sites, text messages, blog content, and RSS feeds and micro-sites chronicling the search and handling viewer questions.

"It's both Foxworthy's new baby and a new addition to the CMT family," said Andy Holeman, the company's vice president of consumer marketing. "It's big and fun and breaks through traditional sweepstakes mechanics, which allows us to keep our focus on the idea that it's a new series and engage the ever-growing multiplatform nature of the CMT brand." (Network spin-offs include CMT Loaded video service, digital music service Urge, cmt.com, CMT Radio Network, "Insider Entertainment" mobile updates and CMT Cross-Country entertainment marketing.)

CMT's creative and marketing staff developed the campaign, together with promotions agency Great! in Atlanta.

According to Dan Smigrod, CEO of Great!, more than 100 TV stations have already picked up the story, in addition to coverage in hundreds of articles and blogs.

CMT anticipates the show, which spans sketch comedy, music and standup, "will exceed a 10:1 return on the marketing dollars invested," said Smigrod.

Acknowledging the possible risks in mounting a campaign without easily quantifiable frequency and reach, he said, "We would consider it risky not to move forward with a buzz marketing campaign that can generate far more word-of-mouth and media coverage than the dollars invested in traditional advertising."

The overall effort costs less than $1 million.

CMT reaches 83 million households, with a core demographic of women, 18-49.

CMT's prior buzz marketing campaigns include a $100,000 executive job search for the Dukes of Hazzard Institute in winter 2005 and a radio promotion surrounding a Wizmark urinal for CMT Outlaws the previous fall.

"The ratings success of the Dukes of Hazzard launch on CMT [23 million viewers] was the measurement, not how many impressions were generated by a media buy," Smigrod said.