BET Backs 'Awards’ With $8M

Washington— Black Entertainment Television is investing $8 million in a multiplatform strategy designed to support its tentpole event of the year, the BET Awards.

“We always support it heavily,” said Brucetta Williams, vice president, off-channel marketing and promotions, noting that the network wants a ratings repeat. The awards show was cable’s top-rated special among African-American households last year.

For the first time, the network is promoting the special, which will be carried live from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on June 27, through a partnership with Wal-Mart Stores. The retail giant is including banner ads on its Web site and in its national newspaper inserts, which reach 40 million households.

Grassroots elements include a tie-in with barbershops and beauty parlors in urban markets, as stylists will be provided with branded capes, aprons and promo reels. Also, promos will be interspersed among the videos shows on in-store monitors at Footlocker, Footaction and Champs footwear outlets.

The ramp-up began long ago on college campuses, where representatives of the BET College marketing rep program had a chance to earn a trip to the awards as a reward for their work on behalf of the network. The winning student earned a place in the pressroom at the awards.

The show’s theme this year is “It’s in the Stars” and will feature host Damon Wayans, Mary J. Blige, Missy Elliott, Busta Rhymes and Harry Belafonte.