ABC Cable On Local Roll

ABC Cable Networks Group is rolling out three campaigns aimed at driving local ad-sales revenues to cable operators that distribute Disney Channel, Toon Disney and ABC Family.

Disney Channel replaced its “Playhouse Disney A-Z” local ad-sales campaign with a sweepstakes promotion tied to the network’s hit series That’s So Raven in a bid to boost sales to marketers trying to reach tweens.

For Toon Disney, ABC Cable will run a campaign this summer based on a “Finder’s Keeper” instant win game that viewers can pick up from local sponsors. Meanwhile, ABC Family is running a “Drive Away” campaign steered toward local automotive advertisers.

ABC Cable Networks Group director of local ad sales Ron Hebshie said the company typically spends anywhere from $200,000 to $500,000 on its local marketing and ad-sales campaigns.

The Raven sweepstakes runs from July 26 through Sept. 19, and is timed to draw local advertisers looking to capitalize on back-to-school traffic, including clothing stores, Hebshie said.

ABC Cable decided to replace Disney Channel’s “Playhouse Disney A-Z” campaign with the Raven sweepstakes after cable affiliates told the company that the Playhouse Disney promotion — geared toward preschoolers — was a tough sell with advertisers, Hebshie said.

“Unfortunately on the local level, the children’s market is difficult across the board,” Hebshie added.

Operators that want to participate in the sweepstakes, in which the winner receives a premiere party featuring cast members from Raven at his or her school, must run 150 taggable, cross-channel tune-in spots touting the series.

Disney Channel affiliates already have cut deals worth $50,000 to $100,000 apiece with local retailers that have agreed to buy spots and hand out sweepstakes entries at their stores, according to Hebshie. Retailers that participate are also supplied with Raven window clings, counter signage and employee buttons.

Although Disney Channel doesn’t run advertising, the campaign is a way for affiliates to generate ad revenue from the network by selling taggable cross-channel spots to advertisers, Hebshie said.

The “Finders Keepers” sweepstakes is also set to run from July 26 through Sept. 19 in 10 markets, including: Cox Communications Inc. systems in Phoenix, Las Vegas and Baton Rouge, La.; Comcast Corp. in Denver; Time Warner Cable in San Antonio; and Target Select in Allentown, Pa.

Local systems, which get two minutes of avails on Toon Disney, are using the sweepstakes to cut deals with area advertisers that are handing out sheets of peel-off Toon Disney magnets, some of which contain prizes. The national grand prize winner gets a Sony digital video camera and desktop computer.

ABC Cable also has been pitching cable affiliates a “Drive Away” campaign for ABC Family. The sweepstakes offers national grand prizewinners free car payments and gas for one year.

Hebshie said the campaign, which launched last September, has nothing to do with rising gasoline prices. But he said the talk of rising oil prices has helped drive local interest in the campaign, which he estimated generated $1 million in new and incremental local ad-sales revenue for operators last year.