Comcast Zeroes In on G4's Young-Male Demo

Cabler Wants to Serve Network's 'Tech Avenger' Target With Relevant Ads, Brand Integrations

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Cyndi McClellan, exec VP-research and program strategy at Comcast Entertainment Group, is tired of hearing about how hard it is to reach men 18 to 34.
'Ninja Warrior' is an amateur athletic competition series where prospective ninjas get a trip to Camp Pendleton and a chance to run the Marines' obstacle course.
'Ninja Warrior' is an amateur athletic competition series where prospective ninjas get a trip to Camp Pendleton and a chance to run the Marines' obstacle course.

That's why her research team embarked on a comprehensive study, dubbed "Hunting With Lightsabers," examining the behavioral and lifestyle categories that define those supposedly elusive 35 million-odd Americans Comcast's G4 cable network is dedicated to entertaining.

Easy to find
The first myth Ms. McClellan wanted to dispel? That whole notion that all young men are elusive to begin with. "In fact, they're everywhere and very plugged in," she said. The more baseline challenge is speaking to them in a relevant voice. Of the 1,200 men polled for the study, only 11% said they feel understood by advertisers. Furthermore, their consumption habits aren't being reflected in the majority of the ads they see on TV, as the polled guys said they're more interested in games and technology (93%) than they are in pro sports (74%).

Ms. McClellan's next step was to team up with her research partners at Sachs Insights to identify six different subsets of men 18 to 34 to better understand their lifestyles. Each subset comes with its own name and unique characteristics. There's Mr. Mainstream, which represents 22% of the demo, and tends to be the easiest for advertisers to reach with his appreciation for all things media and pop culture. There's also Captain Career (18%) who is driven and likes to try new things; Dr. Hipster (16%), who is both liberal and notoriously scrutinizing with his tastes; Colonel Geek (13%), who is frugal except when it comes to technology; and Dial-Up Guy (13%), who's tech-averse, conservative and more often than not religious and patriotic.

Lastly, there's the Tech Avenger (19% of the demo), who is focused more on gaming and less on going out, and just happens to comprise the bulk of G4's target audience. Tech Avengers and their five psychographic counterparts are at the center of G4's recent integrated-marketing strategy, which aims to align brands with specific sectors of the target audience.

Take the Toyota Scion, which recently joined the network as a full-time sponsor of the daily entertainment series "Attack of the Show." G4 helped the automaker create the Scion Mobile Studio, which Jonathan Farrell, G4's VP-marketing solutions, likened to a tricked-out NBC news truck.

Gadgets galore
"It encapsulates the high-tech gadgetry the G4 viewer's into and still enables us to put on a show," he said. "It's wrapped with the G4 logo and insignia, and has everything from a high-end navigation system, high-def camcorders, voice over internet protocol, high-end editing software with an Apple notebook. We'll be able to go out on the road and beam it right up over the internet to our HD studios."

Similar methodologies went into pairing the U.S. Marines with "Ninja Warrior," an amateur athletic competition series that allowed for a trip to Camp Pendleton to give prospective ninjas a chance to run the Marines' obstacle course. For the show's second American Ninja Challenge earlier this year, the network held a contest asking viewers to submit videotapes to qualify for the trip to Camp Pendleton, therefore doubling as a potential recruitment tool for the Marines.

Also on deck is an integrated partnership with Stride gum, which will sponsor G4's annual coverage of the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas both on-air and on-site, with an aggressive experiential marketing plan in store for this year's show.

Stephen Earley, Comcast Entertainment's senior VP-integrated marketing, said the "Lightsabers" research "informs us better about tactics that resonate. Toyota and Scion, for example, spent a lot of money on that vehicle, and our research findings will help us understand with the segmentation the trigger points which can inform integrations or events or interactivity going forward. It could also tell us what the viewer is looking for in humor or social responsibility, so some of the touch points on segmentation will help to inform us how to essentially create an idea."

Looking out of niche
From a corporate level, Dave Cassaro, president-Comcast Network ad sales, has even greater ambitions to make the 6-year-old G4, currently in 64 million homes, more of a top-of-mind consideration for both advertisers and viewers now that its niche has been so finely carved out through research.

"What I hope to get is to increase the awareness of the G4 brand proposition and the audience we hit so that more people will come and be interested in doing business with us," he said. "With integrations, if you do something that's a little tricky, they smell out the baloney right away and it has a negative effect. We want to do smart integrations with both eyes open into what will and won't resonate with the audience."
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