Viacom units provide real Eye-opener

Sister cablers, airline rally behind CBS fall sked

Aiming to match the cross-promotional muscle of rival Disney, CBS will rely on its Viacom siblings more than ever this fall to help launch the Eye’s fall schedule.

For the first time, that marketing push includes full-length programs highlighting CBS shows on Viacom cable outlets. MTV will run the 30-minute special “Survivor: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly,” an original “greatest hits” compendium of “Survivor” moments, at least 10 times leading up to the premiere of “Survivor: Thailand” on CBS.

“This is beyond playing commercials,” said CBS marketing topper George Schweitzer. “We’re doing a half-hour entertainment show — that’s unheard of, different and very strategically placed. Obviously MTV’s audience is an important one we want to attract.”

The special, hosted by former “Survivor” contestants Elisabeth Filarski (“The Australian Outback”) and Ethan Zohn (who won the “Africa” edition), will frequently remind viewers about the impending launch of “Thailand.”

“MTV got a really cool program,” Schweitzer said. “They don’t look at this like they’re doing a commercial for us. ‘Survivor’ is a very big lifestyle show for them. They worked with us and (‘Survivor’ exec producer) Mark Burnett, but produced the special in the MTV style.”

Elsewhere, VH1 has added a new musicvideo for the Who’s “Who Are You” featuring clips from “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” which uses the tune as its theme song. TNN, which starts airing the first-season off-net run of “CSI” on Sept. 16, will air a series of specially created “Inside CSI” segments geared toward the debut of CBS’ “CSI: Miami” and third-season launch of “CSI.”

CBS series will also be spotlighted via various TV Land and Nick at Nite specials.

Outside of cable, Viacom’s Blockbuster Video stores will distribute CBS fall preview DVDs at all 5,300 locations; Paramount Video releases such as “Changing Lanes” feature CBS promos; and Infinity Outdoor will give CBS exclusive presence in high-traffic areas like New York’s Grand Central Station.

According to Schweitzer, Viacom’s council of marketing execs meet regularly to discuss priorities, such as a major Paramount feature release. In the fall, it’s CBS’ turn.

“Nothing is forced here,” he said. “They all get it.” Outside of Viacom, CBS also renewed its deal with American Airlines to air inflight programming and has partnered with Campbell’s Soup to produce an eight-page insert in the Parade magazine Sunday newspaper supplement.

With its broad array of media platforms — which includes theme parks, radio outlets and cable channels — Disney has benefitted from cross-promotion for years.

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