Discovery's Integrated Marketing Draws Viewers To Show

The Discovery Channel took an interactive approach to its marketing campaign for the new cable series "Last One Standing," asking viewers to participate by calling in or accessing information on a recently launched Web site.

The reality show, which targets 18- to-34-year-olds, features six men who travel around the world spending time with native cultures, competing against each other and learning the rules of the sports they take part in. From death-defying Zulu stick fighting in South Africa to a foot race in Mexico's mountains, wearing only handmade sandals, the men push their physical and mental limits each week to become the last man standing.

The Discovery Channel integrated a marketing campaign that allows viewers to leave messages for any one of the six men. Lower-third messages run across the viewers' television screens as the show airs. The call-in marketing campaign allows people to ask questions, leaving an audio message that converts into a file stored on the "Last One Standing" Web site. The athletes respond to the questions, leaving a message.



For instance, in one episode a participant drinks a concoction given to him by a witch doctor. A lower-third message asks viewers: How bad did it taste? Viewers were able to answer by calling an 800 number.

"The tricky thing about designing a marketing campaign around this new show is there's not one host, or a central person, to build your promotion around," says Randy Rieland, vice president/new media for Discovery Channel.

Rather than one host, six men who participate in the challenges lead the show. They are 29-year-old British cricket player Raiko, 21-year-old Florida State 2006 BMX Champion Jason, 21-year-old Oxford University sportsman Richard, 28-year-old pro-lightweight strongman Brad, 26-year-old British salsa dancer and kickboxer Mark, and 22-year-old hiker and endurance athlete Corey. The 12-episode series ends Dec. 20.

The Web site, which advertising and marketing firm Crew Creative developed, has received more than three million page views since its launch. Robin Bennefield, Discovery Channel executive interactive producer, says several interactive pieces appear to bring viewers to the Web site. "The Fighting Game," for example, allows viewers to participate in the premise of the show. "Culture Explorer" offers an interactive map to let users explore the unique attributes of the different tribes the six men visit. The site also contains webisodes, and movie shorts, shot and edited by Crew Creative.

In the "Train like a Warrior" webisodes, the six men talk about their favorite exercises and the process they went through to train for the competition. The Discovery Channel also made its first foray into Facebook, with 20 widgets developed by Crew Creative that enables "Last One Standing" viewers to send friends custom icons from scenes found on the television series.

The "Tribe Vibes" represents different cultural and tribal symbols. "The real challenge to promote this show in a social network is to catch the viewer's attention without being too aggressive with marketing efforts," Rieland says.

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