'TV Guide' brand moves beyond print--with TV, Internet debut

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After 45 years, TV Guide is having an out-of-body experience, as the venerable brand pops up in new places this week.

Cable TV's Prevue Channel and three related products are being relaunched under the TV Guide name starting today. United Video Satellite Group, parent of the Prevue Channel, in December concluded the merger of TV Guide and its ancillary properties into Prevue Channel's properties.

Those properties include two listings guides--Prevue Interactive, for digital TV, and Sneak Prevue, for pay-per-view TV--that are now being rebranded as TV Guide Interactive and TV Guide Sneak Prevue, respectively. Also, the new TV Guide Online results from the merger of two Web sites formerly operated by Prevue Channel and TV Guide.

The TV Guide Channel, the new name for the rebranded Prevue Channel and a fourth property, has signed Ford Motor Co. Sprint PCS and New Orleans-style packaged food marketer Zatarains to appear during the first week of its relaunch.


To introduce the newly merged properties, a $2 million TV and print ad campaign from Pyro, Dallas, carries the tagline, "Change the way you channel." The effort is designed to get consumers to realize that the TV Guide brand name now stands for this entire group of listings services, according to Pam McKissick, Prevue Networks exec VP-general manager.

In synergistic fashion, the TV spot breaks during the first "TV Guide Awards Show" airing on Fox Feb. 1.

Until now, cable TV's Prevue Channel was "virtually brandless," Ms. McKissick said.

"We were known as `the blue scrolly thing,'" she said. "I was not too happy going to work for the blue scrolly thing. We knew we needed a major branding initiative with the consumer."


The purchase of TV Guide accomplished the key goal of giving the now joined listings services a clear identity. Now consumers need to be introduced to the new TV Guide products online, on screen and in print.

The TV commercial is set at an awards show, with every seat in an auditorium filled by a TV monitor tuned to a different channel. On stage, a curtain parts to reveal a giant TV screen that reads: "TV Guide has come to television." The TV screen then starts to broadcast images of top-rated shows, intercut with images from TV Guide Channel. One by one, the TV sets in the audience begin to broadcast in sync until they all carry the TV Guide logo.

The spot will run for six weeks on cable channels and on syndicated episodes of "Seinfeld" and "NYPD Blue."

Print advertising, with the tagline "Can a magazine have an out of body experience?" will appear in Premiere, New York Magazine and, of course, in TV Guide.

Copyright January 1999, Crain Communications Inc.

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