Discovery Health Touts New Look

Discovery Health Channel — which devotes a good deal of its programming to helping viewers improve their appearance —has given itself an on-air and marketing makeover.

The network had already put most of the new look's on-air elements in place over the past month, including the channel's first tagline, "Real Life. Medicine. Miracles." Major off-channel marketing campaigns will emphasize the makeover throughout December and into the first quarter, said senior vice president and general manager Bob Reid.

The makeover was already underway — under the eye of vice president of marketing Vicki Lowell — before Reid shifted over from Discovery Channel last August, he said. He's suggested "a good deal of tweaking" since then, he added.

"The network is starting to mature and we're learning what works well and what didn't work," said Reid, explaining the rationale behind the redesign. "It's designed to unify the network persona so it has a consistent look that reflects the programming."

The new logo is "cleaner" than its predecessor, said Reid. "The colors used, the blues and whites, are more peaceful and healthy in their tone."

Discovery Health — which marked its second anniversary last summer — is now in 32 million households, and on target to reach 60 million homes by year-end 2004. It's also taken ownership of the health space, thanks to its recent acquisition of The Health Network from Fox Cable Networks Group, Reid added.

"We're a network for all people at all stages of their lives," said Reid, though he noted that its audience is primarily female. "We're not just a channel for sick people."

Discovery Health in January will debut promo spots on direct-broadcast satellite services. It will also break a print-ad campaign for Discovery Health Body Challenge
in four magazines: People, Health, Redbook
and Self, Reid said.

Challenge, a six-part reality series that tracks the fitness efforts of three men and three women, will bow Jan. 10. Series sponsor Slim Fast also will support a tie-in national sweepstakes and a six-market mall tour, Reid said.

Consumers can enter the contest via mail, online or at Discovery Channel Stores.

By Challenge's premiere date, he said, "the look will be fully realized, carried over into print as well as television."

A batch of new Discovery Health shows have already incorporated the new look into IDs, bumpers and the like. Most notable is the primetime Super Surgery— a show Reid calls "our signature series"— which bowed Dec. 12.

The updated IDs also appeared on The Laugh Factor, Human Hardware
and The Power of Music, all of which began last week.

Discovery Health has consolidated some of its prior series in a bid to clarify the network's identity and help viewers better navigate its schedule, Reid added. Thus, Plastic Surgery
and Body Almanac
have become Better Body Secrets,
while Discovery Health Rescue
has been absorbed into Vital Breakthroughs.

Some of the network's primetime "promotables" scheduled for the first quarter include three specials on Valentine's Day (Feb. 14) — two originals and one repeat presentation — as well as an hour-long special, Catching a Killer: Colon Cancer
(March 13).

Reid, citing corporate policy, declined to disclose the costs of the on-air revamping and marketing campaign.