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NatGeo Aiming to Win Upfronts With Sweepstakes

National Geographic Channel thinks it knows what media buyers like. Would you believe a post-upfront vacation with polar bears?

A chance to see the white furry beasts in their chilly natural habitat is one of the big prizes in the “Expedition of a Lifetime” sweepstakes the network is running as a way to get buyers to focus on NatGeo (and the programming info on its website) amid a crowded field of cable networks looking for upfront appreciation. And even before the network has given its first full presentation, it appears to be working.

The sweepstakes launched last week on NatGeo’s ad sales website and 50 clients played the game in the first 20 minutes. During the first week, more than 230 clients played the game with about half of them coming back to play every day.

Qualified media agency staffers can enter the sweepstakes every day. The game starts with a trivia question about NatGeo’s upfront and continues with a game played against the clock. The winner will be selected from all of the entries after the game closes on June 29.

And if a Polar Bear Cruise in Norway isn’t the winner’s cup of tea, he or she could instead choose a Maasai Walking Safari in Tanzania.  Each trip is 11 days for four people and includes airfare, meals and activities.

All that from a network that doesn’t roll out a typical upfront event featuring drinks and colossal shrimp.