Discovery's Planet Green launch showcases network's edgy side

SILVER SPRING, MD: Discovery Communications highlighted its edgy side in its campaign to get mainstream viewers to tune into its Planet Green network that will be introduced to 50 million US households June 4.

SILVER SPRING, MD: Discovery Communications highlighted its edgy side in its campaign to get mainstream viewers to tune into its Planet Green network that will be introduced to 50 million US households June 4.

In addition to being a 24-hour network, Discovery positioned Planet Green as a "full, multi-platform global initiative," said Annie Howell, SVP of communications and public affairs for Discovery Communications.

When it began its TV upfronts for the media in April, Discovery's PR started talking about the television side and the more than 14 new shows scheduled to debut on Planet Green. The new shows include personalities such as Maria Menounos, Adrian Grenier, Chris "Ludacris" Bridges, Tommy Lee, and Tom Brokaw, as well as one acquisition, Living with Ed (Ed Begley Jr.), from HGTV.

Discovery organized a Los Angeles rock concert headlined by Tommy Lee and Ludacris for the kickoff launch event May 28 in an effort to prove that Planet Green is "a little edgier than things we've done in the past," Howell explained. "We wanted to make sure that we didn't do just a traditional launch."

Additional pre-launch activities include some guerilla marketing tactics in New York and at a Washington Nationals baseball game, where David Zaslav, the CEO of Discovery Communications, will throw out the first pitch.

Howell said Discovery is getting anyone and everyone associated with the network out there talking about the launch and the programming, from personalities to the president and GM of the network, Eileen O'Neill.

"We're across the gamut from the talent we have," Howell told PRWeek. "It gives us the ability to speak to a very wide spectrum of media and a wide spectrum of consumers."

The key demographics for Planet Green include teens and college-aged youth, first-time parents, and baby boomers. The PR team used a unique outreach strategy for each group: blogs and online being the focus for the younger crowd; long-lead magazines for reaching out to first-time parents; and broadcast and radio outreach to target boomers.

"We've identified this as a psychographic, not a demographic.

It really is a way of thinking and living in this [green] space," Howell said of the network's target audience. "We wanted to use our global platform to reach a wider audience, to reach the mainstream. The way to communicate [this movement] to people who aren't yet active in this area is through ways that resonate with them."

The company began building buzz for the lifestyle and entertainment network with an eco-friendly twist as early as a year ago, when it acquired TreeHugger.com this past August. That move began to position Discovery as a resource for environmental information.

The new network's complementary Web site, PlanetGreen.com, which launched on April 17, will aid online outreach along with TreeHugger.com. Planet Green will also maintain a presence on Facebook and YouTube, and the PR campaign includes a blog tour to green, entertainment, and mom blogs.

Discovery's in-house PR team handled most of the launch, with Howell and Bryan Hughes, VP of communications at Planet Green, heading up corporate communications, but several individuals from PR agencies aided various aspects of the campaign.

Independent consultant Reenie Kuhlman aided launch PR while consultant Denise Arrigali worked on PR for Greensburg, a show about the rebuilding of tornado-ravaged Greensburg, KS. General Motors partnered with Discovery for an advertising sponsorship of Planet Green, including premier sponsorship of Greensburg.

LA-based Dish Communications is also helping with PR for reality series Battleground Earth: Ludacris vs. Tommy Lee, as well as the launch concert.

Going forward, Discovery and Planet Green hope to boost involvement in the public affairs space, create more content for video on demand, and "take people known in the [green] space and make them into celebrities," Howell said.

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