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Nat Geo, Comcast Team On Eco Push

Comcast has been “bringing life” to its message that the provider is the destination for high-definition entertainment via a multiple-program co-promotion with the National Geographic Channel.

The programmer has placed three high-profile ecology-themed programs this year under the “Preserve Our Planet” promotional umbrella, designing a rich media campaign for each one that includes a co-branded microsite and a special video-on-demand folder.

Comcast has also co-branded its self-install kits, the first time the operator has allowed another company's branding on this material, the partners confirmed.

Suzanne McFadden, vice president of marketing for Comcast, said the operator has been very focused on adding HD programming and getting it noticed. Partnerships like the one with Nat Geo create “great visuals” that communicate that core message, she said. “It's very important that [these efforts] not be one-time events,” she said.

The first show the partners presented was February's Six Degrees Could Change the World. The special was in the Earth Day and Nat Geo folders on Comcast systems on the same day and date it debuted on the channel. That helped Nat Geo to an average 40 minutes of viewing time, said Kiera Hynnien, senior vice president of marketing for the channel, the highest average for Nat Geo programming to date on Comcast VOD.

The two companies teamed to buy keyword search terms; Internet users hitting on those terms would get a cookie that allowed the partners to follow them wherever they went with the Nat Geo/Comcast message. Consumers could also click through Comcast's Web site to get to the co-branded micro site; 25% of Comcast's site users in February did opt to visit the micro site, Hynnien said.

The special, nationally, earned a 1.18 household rating, Hynnien said

Though the core of the campaign is to highlight HD programming, the promotion also promotes standard digital subscription and HD box self-install kits.

In the second quarter, the promoted special was Human Footprint. With each promotion in the schedule, the partners revise their tactics to gauge effectiveness. Footprint arrived on VOD four days after its on-air debut; Hynnien said they haven't completed the analysis to determine how the later on-demand debut impacted live and VOD viewing.

With this show, the partners added a local ad sales component: for four weeks, Comcast personnel manned Wal-Mart stores to sell their own products. They gave away co-branded seed packets to promote the airing of Human Footprint.

The last show promoted by the partnership will be the five-hour, three-night Earth: the Biography in July. Tactics that will be added to support that title include in-theater advertising; and an incentive program for customer service representatives (still in the planning stages) that will offer rewards in each of Comcast's five service regions.