CTAM Summit 2009: Nat Geo Doubles Down for 'Expedition Week' 2

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Building on last year's first-ever "Expedition Week" programming stunt and affiliate campaign, National Geographic Channel is executing a second, expanded multiplatform campaign.

The initiative encompasses an on-air competition for a $10,000 expedition grant; a digital campaign allowing users to shrink their own head in a real-time 3D environment; an expanded Expedition Week 2.0 game with Facebook extensions; and a simulcast premiere of Expedition Great White live on a Times Square Jumbotron.

Starting Sunday, Nov. 15, at 9 p.m. (ET/PT), Expedition Week brings all-new expeditions. Premieres are: Search for the Amazon Headshrinkers; Expedition Great White; Hunt for the Samurai Subs; Deep Secrets: The Ballard Gallipoli Expedition; Mars: Making the New Earth; The First Jesus? ; and When Crocs Ate Dinosaurs.

Expedition: Granted is an interactive promotion with on-air elements in which two young National Geographic grantees compete for a $10,000 grant; runner-up receives $2,500. If Ben Horton (26) wins, he will research shark poaching in the Cocos Islands. If Trip Jennings (27) wins, he will embark on elephant research in Virunga National Park.

Viewers will vote online at campaign microsite natgeotv.com/expedition. (All voters are entered to win an expedition from National Geographic Travel, airfare not included.)

Using a 3D application in conjunction with Amazon Headshrinkers, users can upload photos and virtually shrink any head -- your mother-in-law, boss or favorite celebrity. Personalized shrunken heads can be shared and posted to social media sites, including Facebook.

Theres also an Expedition Week 2.0 game developed by Arkadium, allowing players to create an explorer alter ego and invite Facebook friends to play and posts game updates to the users wall. On-air spots will give codes that unlock bonus game content.

Local affiliate incentive programs are planned for top DMAs, including trips, consumer goods and day excursions.

A free preview of NGC will be offered to all affiliates and run Nov. 11-25 to include the Expedition Week fare.

An Expedition Week VOD folder will launch on Nov. 5, featuring a pre-premiere of When Crocs Ate Dinos and clips from other premieres.

HD promotions will include in-theater and radio advertising in key markets, including Washington, D.C., Boston and Philadelphia, where there are a high concentration of HD homes. (NGC was the No. 1 network consumers most want to see in HD for five straight years, according to NGC, citing the Brand Beta survey.)

Cross-channel VOD spots will be available to affiliates on foxcable.com.

There will be guerilla marketing in New York City, taking the online digital head-shrinking application to the streets via adwalker computer screens strapped to the body

On the ad-sales front, integrated campaigns will feature four new sponsors, representing a 40% increase in sponsor revenue, with vignettes, custom partner IDs and in-program tagged snipes. Lexus and AT&T are lead sponsors; DirecTV and Kahlua are supporting sponsors.

Joint venture partner support will include, from the National Geographic Society, promotion on the cover of National Geographic Magazine, back cover and interior ads in National Geographic Adventure Magazine and a preview screening events at National Geographic headquarters in D.C.

Fox Cable Networks and News Corp. will provide cross-channel spots across sister networks such as Fox

Broadcast, FX, Speed and Big Ten Network; interactive digital ads across sister network Web sites; outdoor billboard on the Fox studio lot in Los Angeles; a full-page ad in The Wall Street Journal and the Expedition Great White live broadcast in Times Square on the News Corp.-owned Jumbotron.

Kent Gibbons

Kent has been a journalist, writer and editor at Multichannel News since 1994 and with Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He is a good point of contact for anything editorial at the publications and for Nexttv.com. Before joining Multichannel News he had been a newspaper reporter with publications including The Washington Times, The Poughkeepsie (N.Y.) Journal and North County News.