WE Urges Women to Take a Break

For its first affiliate-marketing and local ad-sales promotion, WE: Women's Entertainment seems to be borrowing from that famous McDonald's advertising jingle, "You deserve a break today."

As part of its sweepstakes promotion, WE has designated March 28 as "Me Time Day," on which women will be encouraged to take a break from their busy everyday routines to improve their health and well-being, said WE executive vice president and general manager Martin von Ruden.

WE will support the initiative on its own air and its Internet site, as well as via off-channel promotion, starting in March. The value of the paid and unpaid components is set at the "multimillion-dollar" level, said von Ruden.

Affiliate support

AMC Networks executive vice president of sales and marketing Kim Martin and WE senior vice president of ad sales Liz Koman have signed nearly 600 affiliates to support the promotion. Among the most-involved MSOs: Adelphia Communications Corp., Charter Communications Inc., Insight Communications Co. and Mediacom Communications Corp., said von Ruden.

On the ad-sales side, WE vice president of ad sales Cynthia Carpenter said 17 affiliates and interconnects are on board. Comcast Corp. (including AT&T Broadband's Boston and Cable Advertising of Metro Atlanta interconnects), Charter, Cox Communications Inc., Comcast Corp. and Time Warner Cable — as well as WE parent Cablevision Systems Corp. — are participating, the executives said.

CAMA marketing and promotions director Kelly Crane said WE's promotion enabled the interconnect to secure an increase in the 12-store Rhodes Furniture chain's annual ad budget.

Carpenter has suggested that affiliates pursue categories related to the promotion's premise — such as spas, fitness, education and women's healthcare clinics — as well as retailers that stock Johnson & Johnson's Aveeno product line, the national sponsor of the initiative.

J&J is talking with WE about supporting the promotion through a retail chain, but that partner has not yet been chosen, von Ruden said. During J&J's 18-month exclusive-sponsorship deal with WE, which lapsed last spring, the CVS drug-store chain was a promotional retail partner.

Another partner in the promotion is Lluminari, a network of health professionals.

As for the sweepstakes, its grand prize is a customized spa vacation worth $25,000.

Another key facet of the promotion is a package of eight public-service announcements featuring actresses Susan Sarandon and Vanessa Williams, according to von Ruden. Those PSAs will run on WE and as cross-channel avails. They'll also get some paid runs at more than 25 Clearview Cinema movie theaters (also owned by Cablevision) in the New York City region.

The gist of those PSAs, von Ruden said, is to tell women that "you're the caregiver — now give care to yourself."

Relaxation roots

Me Time Day grew out of a medical conference attended by WE and J&J executives nearly two years ago. During a women's health discussion, von Ruden said, panelists agreed that "taking time out from themselves was the No. 1 thing women can do to improve their health."

That advice — which also arose during WE's own consumer research four years ago, while preparing for its 2000 launch — meshed nicely with the network's positioning as a place that helps women "relax and recharge," von Ruden said.

Von Ruden said he hoped employers might contribute to WE's effort by giving women some time off that day for a long weekend.