Food Network selects Dowd for chef contest

NEW YORK: The Food Network has hired The Dowd Agency for a brand awareness campaign to promote the fourth season of The Next Food Network Star. It includes local and national media outreach.

NEW YORK: The Food Network has hired The Dowd Agency for a brand awareness campaign to promote the fourth season of The Next Food Network Star. It includes local and national media outreach.

The campaign began the first week in April and will run until August, when the season's winner will get his or her own show on the network, according to Carrie Welch, VP of PR at the Food Network. The campaign's budget is undisclosed.

Dowd's campaign targets national media, including entertainment titles, celebrity magazines, and publications running summer TV ads, in the hopes to make the show a water-cooler staple.

"One area that both the network and I believe could use some improvement is bringing the show [further] into the realm of pop culture," Dowd said. "The network had this covered in the food sections and food blogs and things like that, but they wanted to get more mainstream entertainment coverage."

The reality show's main judge, celebrity chef Bobby Flay, will be featured prominently in the campaign, as will Martha Stewart and Rachael Ray, said Jim Dowd, CEO and founder of The Dowd Agency. Flay will also appear on the May 30 episode of The View, to promote the show's June 1 premiere, he added.

The network also hopes to attract more men in the 25- to 54-year-old age bracket, in order to balance the show's female-skewed audience, Welch added.

Additionally, Dowd is reaching out to regional publications in the areas where the show's 10 contestants grew up, went to college, and currently live in, as well as food- and television-themed blogs throughout the country.

A multimedia component on the Food Network's Web site, featuring video blogs and a section on the show, rounds out the campaign. An event schedule has not been finalized.

The network signed Dowd on a project basis after an RFP in early March because of its experience working in reality TV, such as The Apprentice, Welch said.

The Food Network recently parted ways with previous AOR Sheila Feren Communications.

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