NEW YORK: A&E Television Networks (AETN), the parent of History, conducted a consumer awareness effort for its May 25 program, The Link, that began with an emphasis on the scientific community. The show explored the recently identified 47-million-year-old remains of a primate thought to be a "missing link" to humans.
The scientists involved wanted news of the find broken in a scientific journal, said Michael Feeney, SVP of corporate communications at AETN. The network had known about the discovery since last summer, but limited exposure of the find to a small group of people, and used legal non-disclosure agreements in the process, Feeney added.
The researchers published a May article about the find in PloS One, an online scientific journal. However, it also embargoed the story with The New York Times and ABC News to reach a broader audience.
"We wanted to make sure that science was respected throughout the process, and that the scientists involved could reveal the find through a scientific setting and a scientific journal," he said. The remains, nicknamed "Ida," have been hailed by many scientists as a possible ancient relative of today's monkeys, apes, and humans.
It also staged a May press conference at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, which was attended by media from around the world, Feeney added.
In conducting the media event, the network reached out to a wider segment of consumers than its usual 70%-male viewership base, he said. The network also launched a microsite for the special, but did not engage in social media outreach, he added.
"We thought this was a story that resonates around the world," Feeney said. "For Google to change its logo to [a fossil-related variation], was pretty impressive."
The network hired HL Group on a project basis for the effort. It does not have an AOR.