Marketing-wise, Fox News Channel has kept a low profile in Tampa and Charlotte, declining to host the bevy of parties and panels that keeps reporters' dance cards full during the conventions. But it is engendering good will in one conspicuous way: Free cab rides.
Fox News has 10 branded "cabs" offering free rides to convention goers in the streets of downtown Charlotte this week, and did the same in Tampa last week. The cabs feature the likenesses of talent including Greta Van Susteren, Sean Hannity, Shepard Smith and Bill O'Reilly (the only one to appear on two cars).
It's a departure from the strategy of many major media organizations, including newcomers such as The Huffington Post and BuzzFeed, which make considerable outlays on marketing and branding at the conventions. BuzzFeed, for example, hosted an event in Charlotte at the Discovery Place science museum that included meet-and-greets with an iguana and a tortoise, while HuffPost has an "oasis" featuring yoga and massage (perhaps inspired by Arianna Huffington's obsession with sleep.)
Among other cable networks, CNN has a conspicuous presence with its pop-up "CNN Grill," where those with invites to the launch party on Tuesday in Charlotte could drink and eat sports-bar fare on the house, mingle with the likes of Donna Brazile, and catch a glimpse of themselves at the bar behind the anchors in a live broadcast being shot inside the restaurant. (The effort behind the grills in both cities cost the network $2 million, BuzzFeed said, attributing the cost to an unnamed CNN employee.)
And MSNBC has a fan "experience" lounge open to the public alongside its outdoor set in Charlotte's nightlife hub the "EpiCentre." It didn't have a lounge in Tampa, a spokeswoman said, due to space constraints.
Fox News's low-key presence on the ground certainly hasn't hurt its ratings , particularly in Tampa. Its coverage of the 10 p.m. hour last Thursday was the week's second most-watched prime-time program across both broadcast and cable.