FearNet spooks the competition

FearNet is a multiplatform network for horror fans that includes a Web site (FearNet.com), mobile service, and digital cable on-demand service. It was created by Comcast, Lionsgate, and Sony Pictures Entertainment, and DKC helped launch it on Halloween 2006.

FearNet is a multiplatform network for horror fans that includes a Web site (FearNet.com), mobile service, and digital cable on-demand service. It was created by Comcast, Lionsgate, and Sony Pictures Entertainment, and DKC helped launch it on Halloween 2006. This year, FearNet and DKC sought to raise awareness among the general public and drive traffic to its site and the video on-demand (VOD) channel.

“Halloween is our Super Bowl,” says Diane Robina, president of FearNet. “The goal is to get as many people as possible to know about us.”

Strategy
A partnership with a major TV media outlet was sought to reach a mass audience during October. The team decided to hold a contest for the best decorated home (“Home is Where the Haunt is”), based on its popularity for the first anniversary, and offer it as a co-branded element for the media partnership. The team created a series of 10 webisodes called “Streets of Fear” to highlight some of America's spookiest streets.

FearNet also premiered Clive Barker's Midnight Meat Train on October 30, which Robina says reaches “hardcore” and mainstream audiences.

“We wanted the webisode series... to provide local news angles,” says Jeff Klein, MD of DKC.

Tactics

Good Morning America (GMA) agreed to incorporate the contest and the “Streets of Fear” series into weatherman Sam Champion's forecasts. GMA also sent a film crew to surprise a contest winner in Fredericksburg, VA. The six-minute segment included clips of finalists.

GMA's Web site also promoted FearNet, Klein says.

Each “Streets of Fear” webisode explained the legend behind the spooky street names and local media were targeted in each market.

FearNet pitched national pop culture print, broadcast, and online outlets. Barker hosted his film's premiere, which was pitched to horror and film Web sites, and a premiere party was held October 30 in New York City.

Results
October 2008 brought FearNet the highest number of viewers in its history, including more than 14 million views across VOD and online (more than one million unique Web site views). VOD distribution increased 80% compared to October 2007.

Contest entries increased from about 50 in 2007 to more than 160 in 2008. Additionally, GMA ran seven segments total covering FearNet.

“We hit all the goals on the Web site and [surpassed] goals on VOD,” Robina says. “GMA was fantastic – to get that hit every couple of days was amazing. All our partners were amazed at how great DKC did. My bosses are happy and viewers are happy.”

Future
FearNet will continue working with DKC, which is currently promoting the January premiere of a webisode series staring Whoopi Goldberg. The team hasn't started planning Halloween 2009, but Robina expects the decorating theme to continue. She'd also “love to keep the relationship with GMA.”

PRWeek View

This is an outstanding example of a successful partnership between a company and media outlet. FearNet's specialized content and original programming provided GMA a lot of mileage in engaging viewers during the Halloween season.

Creating the “Streets of Fear” series to drive local coverage was also smart, and having GMA producers incorporate it into weather coverage was a boon for both parties. It was also nice to see use its Web site to integrate and expand coverage.

PR team: FearNet (Philadelphia) and DKC (New York)

Campaign: FearNet's second anniversary

Duration: July-October 2008

Budget: $135,000

 

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