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Garmin Helps Viewers Find New Travel Channel Show

GPS maker Garmin is helping the Travel Channel make sure that viewers find their way to the network’s new show, Anthony Bourdain’s The Layover. In an unusual arrangement, Garmin is sponsoring a countdown clock that will appear in the upper corner of the screen for eight days before the series' Nov. 21 premiere.

The show is key for Travel Channel. After a strong start since being acquired by Scripps Networks Interactive for $975 million in 2009, primetime viewership dropped 15% in the third quarter. Bourdain is one of Travel’s biggest stars, and the net is backing the series with a promotional campaign that includes a significant offchannel media buy featuring national and local cable, print and outdoor.

The show’s promotion also represents a shift in the network’s branding, and reflects concerns about weakness in the economy by helping viewers make the most of a situation they are likely to be in rather than exploring more expensive destinations.

The show is already popular with advertisers. “The suite of advertisers that [we have] on the show really represents our core categories,” says Greg Regis, Travel Channel senior VP for ad sales. In addition to Garmin, Chase—already a sponsor of Bourdain’s No Reservations on Travel Channel—is also a major backer of the new series, promoting its travel-oriented Sapphire card with spots, billboards and tagged tune-in promos during the first six episodes. A new Travel Channel sponsor, Land Rover, is supporting the launch of its Range Rover Evoque model on The Layover.

Travel Channel expects the series to be a hit with viewers as well. Bourdain is already popular with the net’s audience, notes Eleo Hensleigh, who joined last month as senior VP, marketing. “He has a following that we think could be broader,” she says.

The channel started promoting The Layover in August, during the last episode of No Reservations.

The TV portion of the campaign features Bourdain explaining the show’s concept in his own words, showing what he would do if he were stuck in New York, Singapore or London for 48 hours, with recommendations that range from “the five stars to the dive bars.”

Spots will run on networks that appeal to Bourdain’s fan base, including History, Discovery and Bravo. Print and outdoor ads use the tagline “Time to Kill Becomes a Killer Time,” not the “Travel Here” slogan unveiled during last spring’s upfront.

Hensleigh says “Travel Here” is being “rested” for the time being. “We’ve evolved some of the brand from what you saw in the upfront,” she says. “When we feel like there is the right idea at the right time to express the network’s position, we’ll either add ‘Travel Here’ back in if that’s it, or move to something new.”

The channel will also support The Layover with an app for iPhone and iPad that allows viewers to track Bourdain’s itinerary and the restaurants he recommends.

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.