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Discovery Dives Into Shark Promos

Heading into its 13th year, Discovery Communications Inc.'s annual "Shark Week" programming event will be backed by its biggest marketing efforts to date.

Discovery is sponsoring a 10-market mall tour Aug. 5 through 12, geared to help local affiliates sell new services. The programmer will use its Discovery Kids digital channel-which will air its own Shark Week coverage geared toward children-to help promote digital upgrades, manager of promotions Beth Meyer said.

Consumers attending the mall tours can pose with an on-site shark cage and receive a souvenir photo. And if they sign up to receive more information on digital cable from the local operator at the tour, they can receive a free Shark Week poster.

They also become eligible to win a Shark Week prize pack that includes beach towels, coolers and a $100 gift certificate for Discovery Channel Stores.

Discovery is hosting a separate sweepstakes on its Web site that will award a viewer an African Safari, complete with the chance to swim with great white sharks. And the network is guaranteeing participating cable operators that it will award a digital camera as a prize to at least one winner in each market.

"They've indicated that local prizing is very important from an affiliate standpoint," Meyer said.

At least 530 systems representing 30 million subscribers have already agreed to participate in the Shark Week campaign-"our highest system response to date" for a Discovery promotion, Meyer said. "Shark Week continues to outdo itself."

In a smaller number of markets, Discovery is offering select affiliates additional ad-sales opportunities with tie-ins to another sweepstakes, which will award a trip to Freeport in the Bahamas.

Discovery expects operators to generate incremental ad revenues of up to $750,000 in markets running the Bahamas sweepstakes, director of local ad sales Megan Rock said. One system signed a seafood restaurant to sponsor Shark Week locally, she added.

New to the Shark Week promotion is an online tool kit for affiliates. Operators are encouraged to co-brand their Web sites with Shark Week logos.

Discovery will also provide customizable 30-second cross-channel spots that can drive viewers to affiliates' own Web sites for sweepstakes entries. On those sites, operators can also promote their own high-speed cable-modem services, Meyer suggested.

"We're looking to be supportive of our local affiliates' ancillary services," she added.