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New Media, New Strategies

Strategies for conquering new on-demand platforms will take center stage next week when syndication marketing executives gather in New York for the annual Promax/BDA conference.

While on-air promos, print materials and new on-air talent will continue to play a big role at the conference, syndication companies plan to put their emphasis on emerging platforms during the June 12-14 show.

“Campaigns are going to have to find new ways to use new media to engage the viewers on lots of levels,” says Josh Raphaelson, a principal, with Ritch Colbert, in Program Partners, which is launching Merv Griffin’s Crosswords this fall.

Program Partners will tease plans for a $5 million-plus branding campaign at Promax/BDA. Among its licensing and merchandising efforts for the new game show will be cross-promotional partnerships with wireless, online and even toy companies.

Based on a simple concept of building puzzles with letters, Raphaelson says, Crosswords offers “enormous” licensing opportunities.

The syndicator will roll out various components of the campaign in waves leading into the fall, the November sweeps and the holidays. Although Raphaelson wouldn’t elaborate, the components include having show-related products geared toward specific markets. There will also be multi-platform interactive games that affiliates can use for local ad-sales insertions and tie-ins.

The NBC-owned stations, which serve as the core launch group for Crosswords and will provide it with some early-fringe news lead-in slots, and Program Partners are jointly developing ways to let affiliates offer viewers online interaction via their Websites.

Although Disney-ABC Domestic Television (DADT), formerly Buena Vista TV, is not launching any first-run shows this fall, the marketing team is stepping up its digital efforts at Promax/BDA and will be reaching out to new application providers.

Another priority for studios heading into Promax/BDA has been building their cable, satellite and online on-demand businesses.

“We not only have the challenge of attracting viewers to our movies and programming but, in many cases, helping those consumers understand the benefits and convenience of these new platforms,” says Sal Sardo, DADT executive VP of marketing.

Despite the push by studios into new mediums, the traditional TV business remains their bread and butter. Syndicators aim to deliver distinctive marketing messages. Twentieth Television, for instance, plans to use Promax/BDA to unveil a syndicated-launch campaign for off-net episodes of Family Guy, including on-air promos, print, radio, national sweepstakes and customized material for station Websites.

And to get more on-air mentions, Twentieth will give stations access to a searchable database, allowing them to create their own on-air materials.

At the conference, CBS Television Distribution will be focused on 25th- and 20th-anniversary campaigns for Wheel of Fortune and Inside Edition, respectively. It also plans a significant campaign for the second season of Rachael Ray.

Betsy Bergman, VP of marketing at NBC Universal Domestic Television Distribution, is getting ready to roll out traditional and new-media campaigns for a variety of shows.

The off-net broadcast debut of Law & Order: Criminal Intent has spurred a two-pronged promotion campaign emphasizing the show as both story- and character-driven.

NBCU will also use the conference as a platform to show a softer side of Springer muscle Steve Wilkos. The director of security at The Jerry Springer Show, who gets his own talk show this fall, will meet with key station executives at a Tribune affiliate meeting during Promax/BDA. Bergman says NBCU will show that the tough-talking, former cop and Marine “is not going to let anyone get away with their proverbial crap.”