Dairy Queen Warms Up to Discovery’s Shark Week

Summer is here and viewers’ thoughts are turning to ice cream and sharks.

To capture those big sweet teeth, Dairy Queen is launching a multi-platform sponsorship of Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, which is biting into its 30th anniversary season.

The ice cream chain will be pushing its menu of Blizzards on TV and on digital and social media. Its S’mores Blizzard is the official frozen treat of Shark Week.

Dairy Queen has been a long-time sponsor of Discovery Inc.’s cable channels but during last year’s upfront the company was looking for something that would get more attention during the summer and wanted to move beyond traditional TV, said Scott Kohn, group senior VP for advertising sales at Discovery.

“We brought to them Shark Week. It’s our 30th anniversary and it was going to be cross-platform in a digital world and that’s really what got them excited about it,” said Kohn.

“We were able to bring them not only custom content that would run on air up to and during the week of Shark Week, but it there would be content across all the platforms and products where our consumers were going to be able to view Shark Week content,” he said. “They agreed and we built it based on what would make it effective to deliver their message and get people to watch it.”

Discovery created a branded video with men in two small boats. One says “you have got to try this new Summer Berry Blizzard from DQ.” The other says the S’mores blizzard he’s eating is “so good.” A shark swims between two vessels and takes a bite out of the S’mores treat, leaving tooth marks on the second man’s cup and spoon. “He chose mine,” exclaims the second man, fortunate the denizen of the deep was looking for desert, not an entire meal. The video explains that the S’mores Blizzard is the official frozen treat of Shark Week and promotes that the popular programming stunt will begin July 22.

“The summer Blizzard menu is really important for Dairy Queen in the summer,” says Kohn, who said the video will begin airing later this week.

Virtual Reality

Discovery has also created a custom Virtual Reality Shark Week experience that DQ is sponsoring. The experience is called Chumsicle Buffet, and it shows rare footage of adult mako sharks attracted by what is for them a frozen treat. It launches July 13 on a Shark Week fan site, Discovery VR, Shark Week’s Facebook page and Discovery’s YouTube channel.

The VR experience is going to be promoted by editorial and social material that will appear on Facebook and Twitter.

Because viewers can’t get enough Shark Week content on the air, Kohn said the network is creating extra content that will be available on the Discovery Go TV Everywhere app. Dairy Queen will be sponsoring a Best Bite curated playlist of highlights Shark Week programing.

A social video series highlighting the best shark-themed content will be distributed over Shark Week Facebook and Twitter pages. Discovery is also creating Shark Week content for Snapchat and the network is creating an ad specially designed to run during one of the Snapchat episodes.

Quite a Thrill

The sponsorship also extends to Thrillist, part of Group 9 in which Discovery owns a stake. Thrillist is taking some of the custom content created for DQ by Discovery and adding some of its own to create its own video which will be distribute via Thrillist’s Facebook, Instagram and Twitter handles.

“We want to make sure the Dairy Queen consumer knows they’re sponsoring Shark Week on every platform the can watch Shark Week content Kohn said.

In many Dairy Queen shops, menu boards and other items will promote that the S’mores Blizzard is the official frozen treat of Shark Week, helping to get ice cream fans to tune in.

“We are thrilled to be participating in the 30th anniversary of Shark Week, an event that has become as synonymous with summer as frozen treats and Dairy Queen,” said Maria Hokanson, executive VP of marketing at Dairy Queen. “We hope fans will enjoy our S’mores Blizzard Treat, the Official Frozen Treat of Shark Week while watching all of the incredible shark content the during one of the greatest weeks of summer.”

Discovery wouldn’t say how much Dairy Queen was paying to sponsor Shark Week, but the ice cream chain will continue to advertise on Discovery channels beyond Shark Week.

Fiscal Flavor

Shark Week is big business for Discovery. Last year, according to research company Standard Media Index, Shark Week programming generated $20.2 million in advertising revenues, up from $16.6 million in 2016. Average weekly advertising revenue for Discovery in 2017 was $12.7 million, up from $12.1 million in 2016, SMI said.

Last year, 346 brands ran ads during Shark Week, according to iSpot.TV, which estimates their spending at $26.9 million.

The top advertiser was Samsung Mobile, which spent nearly $1 million. Other big spenders including Volkswagen, GEICO, Apple iPhone, Olay, Taco Bell, Swiffer, Redd’s Apple Ale, Esurance and IBM Watson.

During this year’s upfront Discovery bundled some of its top shows, including Shark Week programming, into Discovery Premiere, a move designed to lure more ad dollars from the broadcast networks.

Shark Week Stuff Coming to a Store Near You

Discovery has also launched an extensive merchandising program to capitalize on the 30 anniversary of Shark Week. Shark Week products apparel, accessories, books, toys and packaged good.

Kids visiting Build-A-Bear will be able to stuff their own Great White or Hammerhead sharks, there will be Shark Week activities on some Princess Cruises and Bestway will sell themed pool inflatables exclusively at Walmart.

Highlights among the 18 hours of programming for the 30 anniversary edition of Shark Week include Shark Tank Meets Shark Week, Uncaged: Shark vs Ronda Rousey, Cuba’s Secret Shark Lair and Bear Vs Shark, featuring Bear Grylls.

Last year, Discovery Channel was the top rated cable network in prime time during Shark Week across adults 25-54, 18-49 and 18-34 and was viewed by 31.1 million total viewers.


Jon Lafayette

Jon has been business editor of Broadcasting+Cable since 2010. He focuses on revenue-generating activities, including advertising and distribution, as well as executive intrigue and merger and acquisition activity. Just about any story is fair game, if a dollar sign can make its way into the article. Before B+C, Jon covered the industry for TVWeek, Cable World, Electronic Media, Advertising Age and The New York Post. A native New Yorker, Jon is hiding in plain sight in the suburbs of Chicago.