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IFC's 'Dinner' to Feed Service Sales

The Independent Film Channel has prepared an affiliate-marketing feast for the series Dinner for Five, and MSOs in more than a half-dozen markets will sit down for its first year.

The campaign, by far the biggest yet from IFC, is designed to help affiliates "drive tiers and move boxes" — that is, bolster their digital-cable and cable-modem businesses — said Bravo Networks executive vice president of affiliate sales and marketing Gregg Hill.

Dinner for Five— an original, unscripted discussion hosted by director, writer and actor Jon Favreau — airs Mondays at 8 p.m. Bravo has already made a multi-year production commitment to the series, said Hill.

Show creator Favreau hosts such celebrities as Peter Falk, Ray Romano, Jeff Goldblum, Garry Shandling and Daryl Hannah. They discuss several topics in a casual dinner setting.

The first of eight new episodes will debut April 15.

The marketing initiative behind what Hill called IFC's "marquee show" grew from operators' request for a campaign that would support their digital-cable and cable-modem businesses.

Among those taking part in IFC's year-long "Phenomenal Dinner for Five
Campaign" are: Comcast Corp. in Nashville, Santa Fe, N.M., Philadelphia and various other Pennsylvania systems; AT&T Broadband in Atlanta, Chicago and Portland, Ore.; and Charter Communications in St. Louis.

Charter regional vice president of marketing Mindy Jeffries said the St. Louis system will begin its six-week Dinner for Five
"upsell" campaign next month, incorporating direct mail, outdoor billboards and radio as part of its paid-media push covered under IFC's matching-funds plan.

Instead of simply touting a given digital network, Charter has begun zeroing in on a specific program as a way to spark interest among prospective customers, Jeffries noted.

At AT&T Broadband in Atlanta, executive director of communications Reg Griffin said his system is enthused about the year-long campaign and "the opportunity to identify ourselves with the increasing popularity of a digital [network] brand."

The system plans to offer a one-year IFCRant
magazine subscription and IFC wristwatch as incentives for those signing up for digital cable and modems, he said.

IFC's materials include cross-channel promotion spots featuring Favreau, direct mail and a national campaign in Entertainment Weekly, Premiere
and Rolling Stone
magazines, local broadcast and spot cable. The latter paid media campaign will have a local phase, with IFC contributing matching funds.

Griffin and Jeffries said their systems are taking advantage of IFC's matching-funds offer.

The cutoff for matching funds will vary by market.