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Focus on Brands at Scripps Upfront

Scripps Networks Interactive took its upfront road show to Chicago on Thursday.

Adam Richman, star of Travel Channel’s Man v. Food, did his best Blues Brothers imitation. Travel Channel general manager Laureen Ong flashed her Chicago White Sox World Series ring. And Rob Van Winkle brought back Vanilla Ice, now billed by DIY Network as the coolest contractor in the country. He signed off with a “word to your mother.”

From the stage of the historic Chicago Theater, ad sales president Steve Gigliotti talked about how committed Scripps is to partnerships with its advertisers. The secret of the company’s networks are that they are “convergent brands that inspire consumers to purchase.” The company’s slogan for this upfront is “Brands for Now. Brands for Life.”

The heads of Scripps channels outlined their programming plans for next season, with both HGTV and Food Network announced that they would have new episodes of original shows on Sunday nights all year.

Food Network President Brooke Johnson called it a “seamless tent pole strategy” that would include competition shows including some holiday themed programs such as Halloween Wars, featuring pumpkin carvers, and Guy vs. Rachael, with Guy Fieri and Rachael Ray each leading a team of celebrities in a cook-off. “It will be like cooking with the stars,” said Johnson.

Johnson also talked about the success of Scripps new cooking channel, whose ratings are up 78% from the ratings Fine Living had been delivering. “That doesn’t happen every time you rebrand a cable network,” she said, taking a not so veiled shot at Chicago’s own Oprah Winfrey’s OWN.

During the presentation, execs talked about ways their networks partner with sponsors.  Many Scripps Network shows feature projects viewers can do at home, whether it’s fixing a meal or renovating a bathroom. And as HGTV President Jim Samples says, “projects need products.” The presentation highlights marketing programs featuring integrations, vignettes and other forms of original content for brands including, GMC Trucks, Moen, Samsung, Applebee’s, Pillsbury, Hillshire Farms, Toy Story 3 and Tangled. HGTV also has a show called My Yard Goes Disney.

Jon Steinlauf, senior VP for ad sales, talked about integration on Food Network designed to get viewers to use Kellogg’s cereals for meals other than breakfast. On Next Food Network Star, competitors were challenged to create meals using Kellogg’s products as ingredients, and the result was integration with more than 90% brand recall and a 36% enhancement in consumer opinion of the Kellogg brand. The average for such an integration is 13%, said Steinlauf, who announced that Kellogg’s has renewed its partnership for another year.