Targeted Pitch: Reach The Planners, Reach Their Clients

When John Rood makes the rounds at big-time agencies with his sales counterparts, the ABC Family marketing executive is keenly interested in the psychographics of the junior planning staff.

The reason is simple: Rood is always looking for ways to craft creative trade campaigns to reach planners in their 20s, who fit ABC Family's target. He hopes he'll convince them to persuade their buying counterparts to increase budgets or give the network a shot for the first time.

"In a hyper-competitive media market, we definitely have to keep ourselves front and center with these decision-makers," said Rood, senior vice president of brand marketing.

His latest attempt kicks off next week, Oct. 17-21, as the network will send a double-decker sightseeing bus around New York promoting its annual programming stunt "13 Nights of Halloween," as well as a new original film. Its itinerary includes stops at major agencies.

The promotion, of course, has the dual target of agency executives and potential viewers. (A secondary message is the Disney-owned network's shift on Time Warner Cable in Manhattan from channel 14 to 38.)



"We're combining the consumer appeal and trade appeal of this event," Rood said.

The bus will be wrapped with promotional messages, and will feature dressed-up "werewolves" riding on top. The goal is to drive interest in the original movie "Nature of the Beast," which launches the Sunday night the five-day tour ends. The plot involves a couple planning a wedding, when it's revealed that one partner is a werewolf. The other, however, is still headed to the altar.

Street teams will ride along doling out items with tune-in messages. The campaign is a joint effort with the Mr. Youth marketing shop. The ninth-annual "13 Nights of Halloween" programming runs Oct. 19-31. Outside the trade realm, it will receive promotion in print, on radio and in-theater in the New York DMA.

Now in 91 million homes, ABC Family has increasingly been launching original programs. Its target demo is 14- to-28-year-olds, making junior planners at agencies part of its upper reach. In addition to the Halloween holiday programming, the network annually runs "25 Days of Christmas."

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