WASHINGTON: Discovery Channel worked with Washington communications firm GMMB to create the aura of a political-style campaign to drum up interest in the cable network?s Greatest American television series.
The four-part program asked viewers to vote for their greatest American of all time. On the show?s June 26 finale, Ronald Reagan was named the winner of the competition after all the votes had been tallied.
Discovery went on a 10-city bus tour this spring, developed by GMMB, to promote the program and interact with viewers. At each stop, people in the crowd received "Greatest American" ballots, campaign buttons, balloons, pens, and magnets.
Reminiscent of Howard Dean?s pioneering use of the web during his 2004 presidential bid, GMMB created a blog, GreatestAmericanblog.com, so that viewers could express their opinion of the 100 candidates on the final ballot. GMMB subcontracted development of the blog to Voce Communications. As GMMB?s partner on the project, Voce also performed outreach to other websites to generate interest in the blog.
GMMB started working on the project about six months ago, dedicating 30 people from its design shop, advance teams, and press relations department to build "Greatest American" awareness. ?We were parachuting about five to 10 people into each market,? GMMB Vice President Joe Wagner said. ?We wanted to replicate a national get-out-the-vote field operation.?
Discovery chose GMMB because of the firm?s expertise at political campaigns and focus on ? grass-roots organizing, said Elizabeth Hillman, Discovery Channel?s vice president of communications.
?We had hoped the ratings would be higher, but this is absolutely a format that we?re looking to working with as we go forward,? she said.