Instrumental in the Community

From bringing music back to schools to urging annual physicals or fighting fat, Viacom networks get involved

Saving musical instruments—along with saving lives—is among the missions at VH1, Spike and BET. Affiliates of those Viacom networks have been linked with such campaigns as “Saving the Music” on VH1; BET's “A Healthy BET,” which cautions against obesity; and Spike's blunt educational initiative, “Check Up or Check Out,” which encourages its young male audience to get an annual physical exam.

Spike participated in Charter Media's Get Hooked on Health Expo in St. Louis earlier this year. “Spike staffers performed 1,600 free health screenings, including body- mass, heart-rate, blood-pressure and cholesterol checks,” explains Jason Malamud, VP, affiliate advertising sales, MTV Networks.

“With Spike's help, the expo not only helped achieve Charter's goal of increasing health and fitness levels,” he says. “The campaign also helped Charter gain some significant incremental revenue dollars from the health-care industry. That's a category that previously hadn't spent any money with cable.”

According to Malamud, more than 36,000 families participated in the Charter health expo over a two-day period.


Earlier this year, Spike partnered with Comcast's Simply Balanced health initiative and will partner with it again in 2006 as part of “A Healthy BET,” which also centers on eating a more sensible diet.

“Simply Balanced is Comcast Spotlight's year-round campaign designed to reach consumers looking to lead better lives through nutrition, exercise and preventive health measures. The BET Foundation's A Healthy BET is aimed at reducing obesity within the African-American community by promoting healthy lifestyles.

The campaign targets African-American women, young female adults, and girls, providing grassroots activities, a national fitness challenge, and a new component: “BET Summer Camp for Girls.”

“The campaign provides [local] health-related sponsors with a natural opportunity to align their products and services,” Malamud says.


Meanwhile, VH1 offered its affiliates the opportunity to tie their local advertising into its trademark “Save the Music” campaign. That initiative began as more and more cash-strapped school systems began eliminating music programs.

“Save the Music” raises thousands of dollars annually to restore (and return) instrumental-music programs to public schools and to raise awareness of the positive impact music has on students' lives.

The network offered local systems counter cards for in-store takeaways to further connect local advertisers with the VH1 brand.

It also provided an interactive online page that could be sold to a local advertiser or the local affiliate.

And it created a series of vignettes aimed at driving consumers either to a retail sponsor or to sites where donations could be made.That's a campaign that literally brings sound results.