‘Next Food Network Star’ Employs Multimedia in Major Way

E.W. Scripps Company’s Food Network has kicked off a multimedia marketing effort on behalf of its reality show The Next Food Network Star. It’s a fitting approach, given the four-week program is itself full of multimedia marketing elements.

The new show involves a series of cooking challenges in which eight finalists compete to be the star of a Food Network TV program. The series begins airing next Sunday and runs through June 26.

To promote the show, the Food Network has launched a campaign that involves online, SMS (define), interactive TV, print, network and cable TV, radio, and outdoor. Spend wasn’t disclosed.

A Web media buy that begins this week is the centerpiece of the interactive effort. The company will do a 10-day online ad blitz involving roadblocks on five entertainment-oriented channels on America Online. The AOL buy employs PointRoll expandable ads that incorporate streaming video. The creative units also let people sign up for email and SMS alerts about the show. Creative will also appear on Yahoo TV, E! Online, and TV Guide Online.

“Each one lets the user experience more deeply The Next Food Network Star programming,” said Food Network SVP of marketing and creative services Lynn Brindell.

Additionally, the company is sponsoring a section on Cox Communication’s VOD (define) FreeZone service in the San Diego market. The feature, which is available to 255,000 subscribers, lets people look at behind-the-scenes video content related to the show. Cox digital subscribers in the Phoenix area will be able to interact with promotional TV spots when they appear on the cable network. Clicking on their remote controls when the spots appear will take viewers directly to the Food Network. A similar interactive feature is being employed on TV Guide’s interactive program guide, which is available to 8.5 million digital subscribers across a variety of cable providers.

Brindell said the company expects interactive TV marketing to continue to be a significant element of its media plans going forward.

“As the technology is adopted more widely, we hope our advertising will accompany its use,” said Brindell.

The network has employed cutting-edge interactive technology on behalf of advertisers in The Next Food Network Star program itself, as it has in recent programs such as Food Network Caters Your Wedding. The program’s sponsors — Brawny, Nexium, Thermador, and Honda — all get exposure on both the program itself and the accompanying Web site.

“All of the sponsors will be convergence sponsors,” explained Jeff Meyer, SVP of interactive sales at Scripps. “They will have spots within the shows and the presenting sponsors like Honda will have short form vignettes that run on air — and then they’re integrated throughout the online presences.”

As the program continues its run, viewers have a chance to “play along” via an online trivia game engineered by GoldPocket Interactive. Winners of that trivia game, which will be promoted on air, have their names displayed on the television program.

“It encourages participation and watching the show,” said Meyer.

Viewers can also vote for a winner of the program. Voting, which is sponsored by Honda, will take place online, via text messaging, and on interactive TV. The company says it’s looking at page views and interactions with the sponsor integrations as measures of success.

“One out of every four [Food Network] TV viewers goes to the Web site,” said Meyer. “So we were trying to give advertisers the opportunity to talk to audience members in these different media.”

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