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A TIP OF THE HAT TO HGTV, NICKELODEONAND GIULIANI

By Published on .

Espn wasn't the only cable network that excelled in marketing this past year. Here's a look at other channels and their marketing efforts.

WHERE KIDS GO

Nickelodeon solidified its position as the place for kids TV.

"We look at the network as a live organic brand," says Tom Harbeck, Nickelodeon's senior VP-marketing & on-air promotion/ creative director, U.S. television.

"Here we connect kids through their world," he says.

And there's no doubt that for many children, Nickelodeon is definitely part of that world.

Mr. Harbeck says one of his biggest challenges this year was Nickelodeon's expansion into prime-time programming.

"What we discovered in our research is that kids didn't know what prime-time meant," he says.

So to market the expansion, the network came up with the slogan "more of what you like."

The prime-time move was also supported by a massive tie-in with the launch of the Nintendo 64 videogame unit. Again, Mr. Harbeck's challenge was to make kids connect Nickelodeon with the game player.

The solution was to devise a sweepstakes that was interactive and fun. A red dot was shown during the prime-time lineup, and kids could hold up game pieces, obtained free at Blockbuster Video stores, to the TV screen to see if they had won.

Nickelodeon also initiated a two-year deal with Kraft Foods that will involve all 25 of Kraft's brands targeted to children; the initial promotion tied into Nickelodeon's afternoon programming.

HEADING HOME

A smaller network hoping to eventually build a brand identity as strong as Nickelodeon is Home & Garden Television, which came out with its first consumer advertising and marketing effort this year. The awareness campaign, appearing in shelter magazines, used radio icon Paul Harvey and home building guru Bob Vila.

"With a network like ours, it's fairly easy to reach our target with very specific ad vehicles," says Lil Everett, VP-marketing.

The network's biggest marketing campaign, and its first really integrated effort, is targeted to the first quarter. It's a contest where participants can win a log home. Ten other advertisers are participating, including Ford Motor Co.'s Lincoln-Mercury division and Sherwin Williams paints.

NEW YORK NEWS

While Nickelodeon and HGTV followed traditional marketing plans, the fledgling Fox News Channel had an unusual marketing tale to tell this year, featuring New York Mayor Rudolph Guiliani as an unofficial spokesman.

When Time Warner kept Fox News Channel off its New York City cable system, Mr. Guiliani tried to put the network on a channel set aside for the city. A major media and legal brouhaha followed, featuring legal action and the trading of accusations (see story on Page S-4).

The end result was that Fox News never got on in New York, but the network built the kind of brand awareness that usually takes years and costs millions.

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