Scripps Serves Up a Diverse Menu

Proffering myriad ways for brands to affix themselves to its various on-air, online and digital properties, Scripps Networks executives also talked up the “thousands of hours” of new shows and specials, plus returning series at its upfront presentation to advertisers last week.

HGTV and Food Network, as well as emerging services DIY, Great American Country and Fine Living, were all given their moment in the sun before the assembled media buyers at Cipriani.

Jim Samples, who joined HGTV as president six months ago after he fell on his sword for Cartoon Network in the wake of an outdoor marketing plan that went awry in Boston, was center stage for the Madison Avenue set, extolling, among other things, the five new series the service will roll out this summer.

Among the new entries: Red Hot and Green, which bows June 9; Rate My Space, a linear iteration of the network’s eponymous online community site that launches June 19; and Good Buy, Bad Buy, which, commencing with a June 29 sneak peek, will send experts to the aid of overwhelmed house-hunting families.

June will also see the third go-round for HGTV’s top-ranked competition and incubator series Design Star, which debuts June 8.

Two key specials are also in the works for the network this summer: HGTV Green Home Giveway, the environmentally correct turn on the network’s Dream Home, takes shape June 8, with the winner of a custom-built abode in Hilton Head Island, S.C.; and Summer Showdown, a four-hour competition project during August in which network designers Vern Yip, Cynthia Rowley, David Bromstad, Constance Ramos, Steve Watson, Monica Pedersen, Lauren Lake and Eric Stromer battle the clock and each other to finish the redesign of some of America’s ugliest rooms and backyards.

Food Network’s cabinets were also well-stocked. In addition to the fourth season of the Next Food Network Star competition series, which will run in June and July, the network is adding to its “In The Kitchen” weekend menu with Cooking For Real, featuring former hip-hop DJ Sunny Anderson, who keeps meals affordable and easy. The show bowed April 6 at 10:30 a.m.

Following in the time slot are Chic Easy (May 18), headed by culinary enthusiast Mary Nolan, showing off her simple, yet sophisticated meals; and Secrets of a Restaurant Chef (June 29) in which Iron Chef America regular Anne Burrell reveals professional kitchen mysteries.

Also on Food’s burner: Feasting on Waves, the Caribbean cuisine version of Alton Brown’s Feasting on Asphalt series, which begins Sept. 7; Food Sleuths, which examines such myths as the five-second rule; The Chef Jeff Project, where a former drug dealer works with at-risk young adults in his Los Angeles catering establishment; and Eat the Clock, the network’s bow to such scavenger hunts as The Amazing Race, in which participants compete against locals.

The big news for Fine Living, nearing 50 million subscribers, was that it will become Nielsen Media Research-rated in first-quarter 2009. Taking aim at the CFO — the “chief family officer,” by Scripps executive vice president Burton Jablin’s description — Fine Living aims to help viewers sort through various options, maximize time and enrich their lives.

Among the shows touted during the presentation: What You Get For Your Money; All-Girl Getaway (April 24), for female bonding fun and adventures; Shopping with Chefs (May 3), Pack Your Toothbrush, detailing quick trips; and Nightmares for Rent, which sorts through some apartment fixer-upper horrors.

The network also announced the debut of the special It’s Easy Being Green April 22, featuring environmental practices from the likes of Helen Hunt, John Mellencamp and David Duchovny. Design doctor Christopher Lowell will also join the service July 26 with a new series, Work That Room With Christopher Lowell.

DIY, which is now in nearly 50 million homes and became measured by Nielsen a year-ago, appeals to upscale men 25 to 54 who want “information in an entertaining way,” Jablin said.

Celebrity Rides With Kevin Dillon; Blog Cabin, in which a cabin is constructed with online input; and Desperate Landscapes were among the shows trumpeted during the presentations. New series include Cool Tools and Project Extreme.

Country-music proponent GAC, pushing toward 55 million homes next year, sounded the message loudly that it was all “about music and the people who make it.”

In addition to flagging sponsorship opportunities with a tour bus that makes stops at big country-music events and venues, GAC also referenced its wide-ranging initiative with Garth Brooks last fall, involving music videos, promotion for the artist’s compilation collection, The Ultimate Hits, and an exclusive concert from the Sprint Center in Kansas City, as the template for more big events. GAC now wants to enact four such projects each year.

Coming out of GAC’s gate tonight at 9 p.m. (ET): Drafting Partners, a new series that places country music artists who are NASCAR fans out of their element and occasionally into the driver’s seat at some of the stock-car circuit’s most famous tracks.

Deanna Brown, president of the interactive group, informed media buyers of the various ways Scripps services already have or are prepared to integrate and push their clients’ brands into such vehicles as iPhones, the social-networking Web site Facebook, users’ desktops and videos within blogs, not to mention the network’s companion Web sites.

At the presentation’s conclusion, senior vice president of ad sales Jon Steinlauf discussed short-form solutions like “Short Stories,” brand-integrated miniseries that run across consecutive commercial breaks. Network personalities, like Ingrid Hoffman, can also be tapped for marketing efforts like the one with Tostitos, which manifested with the host of Simply Delicioso’s image gracing the snack bags at retail, among other executions.

Among the other examples of vignettes mentioned: “Kraft Entertainment Ideas,” Home Depot’s “Eco Options” and “Denny’s Music Giveaway.”

Steinlauf said these short-form platforms provide “great recall, enhance product likeability and improve brand recognition.” 

For more information on Madison Avenue's upfront selling season, click here.