DIY, Heavy.com Make Out Like Bandits On User-Generated Video Effort

To attract an audience of muscle-car enthusiasts, it would seem Burt Reynolds and the chance to win a custom, fully restored Trans Am would do.

Not taking any chances, however, Scripps Networks' DIY Network partnered with Heavy.com on a consumer-generated media initiative to promote its cable series "Burt Builds a Bandit."

Media Storm (which Scripps named media agency of record for DIY Network in September) brokered the promotion, which invites Heavy's young male audience to create and upload videos explaining why they deserve to win the car.

With DIY promoting the contest through its franchise "Celebrity Rides," the number of "Burt" videos uploaded and viewed surpassed 55,000 in about eight weeks.

By contrast, when H.J. Heinz earlier this year asked consumers to create their own TV spots for a chance to win $57,000 and national airtime, the ketchup maker received just about 8,000 submissions--only 4,000 of which were deemed appropriate for judging.

Banners promoting "Burt Builds a Bandit," which accompanied the videos, delivered 14.4 million impressions for DIY's "Celebrity Rides," according to Craig Woerz, a managing partner at Media Storm.

"You get these kinds of numbers," said Woerz, "when you take a hot car, the iconic Burt Reynolds and combine them with the creative video genius of a mostly male Heavy/DIY audience."

In addition, the "Burt" videos more than doubled Heavy's previous top UGC contest, and are expected to remain on Heavy.com for an extended period.

Reynolds, the original Bandit, helped select the winning video: "Spencer's Trans Ambition," created by Spencer Brinkerhoff III of Mesa, Ariz. The news was announced during a one-hour special of DIY's "Celebrity Rides: Burt Builds a Bandit" this past Friday.

"This effort was more about exposing DIY Network programming to new viewers," said Robyn Ulrich, DIY's senior vice president of marketing. "Our partnership with Heavy.com helped us to reach an audience beyond our walled garden." Of DIY's existing and potential viewers, Ulrich added, "if we provide them with a platform to become emotionally connected with the network, then we've created the opportunity for a loyal viewer." Clearly, the effort represents a larger strategy by DIY--and more broadly, Scripps--to engage audiences through highly interactive Web initiatives.

Earlier this year, for instance, DIY asked Web users to help design a log cabin for a 13-part TV series documenting its construction in the foothills of Tennessee's Great Smoky Mountains. From the cabin's floor plan to its windows, the "Blog Cabin" site received a reported 4.7 million design votes.

Scripps Networks has found success with social media initiatives across many of its channels, beginning with HGTV's "Rate My Space" Web portal. Earlier this year, the site, which encourages users to share decorating advice, generated 10 million page views in just six weeks--10 times more views than expected.

DIY has its own social media site, "My Projects," which centers on home repair.

The creators of HGTV and Food Network launched the DIY Network back in 2001 along with its companion Web site, DIYnetwork.com. The site presently offers broadband video channels, including home improvement, crafts, automotive, gardening and woodworking.

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