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History’s Pharaoh Deal

Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither was the promotional push behind The History Channel’s upcoming series, Engineering an Empire.

An extension to the Emmy-winning special Rome: Engineering an Empire, the series bows Oct. 9 with a two-hour episode on ancient Egypt. The show is supported by local promotional spots designed by the network to help affiliates sell ads to such targeted sectors as automotive dealers and communications companies.

Affiliates that have agreed to run 300 cross-channel spots between Sept. 25 and Oct. 9, or conduct an equivalent amount of promotion, can take their pick of three “spoils of the empire,” which can be given away to viewers through a sweepstakes, or presented to advertisers as an incentive.

The choices: “Explore an Empire,” which includes a four-night, three-day stay at the Occidental Grand Xcaret resort in Chichen Itza, Mexico; “Enjoy an Empire,” offering a four-night, three-day trip for two to the Luxor Hotel in Las Vegas; or “Engineer an Empire,” for which the network will provide a rolling Stanley FatMax Rolling Power Tool Center, stocked with hand and power tools.

Executives said the viewer reaction to the original special, which debuted Sept. 5, 2005, has continued strong through 11 encore airings. That underlines the notion that engineering is a subject that engages an audience every time, making it perfect for a local promotional push, said Judy Klein, director of consumer promotions.

“Category friendly” spots are an innovation hallmark of History’s campaign. Humorous, computer-animated commercials are designed to flag the local sponsor within the spot, as opposed to a tag at the end. For instance, one spot designed to lure automotive sponsors describes the transportation options available to ancient Egyptians, noting that man has progressed to the point that cars are now the chariot of choice. In it, a cartoon pharaoh is depicted tooling along in a convertible.

History’s campaign will hit 30 markets, served by Time Warner Cable, Insight Communications Co., Charter Communications Inc. and Comcast Corp., among others, according to vice president of affiliate marketing Jennifer Ball.