Invitation to the Wedding Business

Oxygen campaign revolves around nuptials
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In a market where larger cable systems and market-wide interconnects now peddle advertising time across as many as 50 channels, it’s tough for individual networks to stand out. That’s one reason independently owned Oxygen network is turning to a time-tested tactic for grabbing the spotlight: weddings.

It’s an $80 billion business, according to the Association for Wedding Professionals, and that doesn’t even include honeymoons. By aligning Oxygen locally with the wedding-and-bridal category, network executives hope to help affiliates tap into the nuptial scene.

“It’s a huge category that might be overlooked,” says Elizabeth Chunn, Oxygen’s director of local advertising sales. She encourages affiliates to make use of an Oxygen-produced advertiser promotion that features an expenses-paid trip to New York City organized by the promotional agency for the Broadway stage show Mamma Mia.

The promotion is flexible: It can be staged any time during the year. But Chunn suggests affiliates organize it around the network’s original series Real Weddings From The Knot, a reality show that traces the wedding-planning highs and lows of soon-to-be-brides, produced in association with online bridal resource New episodes premiere in February and May.

Likewise, WE: Women’s Entertainment is making a deliberate effort to generate traction in local cable ad sales by emphasizing original shows such as Bridezillas.

In Baton Rouge, La., Cox Media celebrated the addition of WE as a local-ad-sales network by pampering local account executives with massages, flowers and a catered lunch in a “spa day” that kicked off the launch of the network. WE footed the bill, and the event helped solidify an understanding of WE as a conduit to female viewers, says Javier Presas, marketing specialist for Cox’s Baton Rouge ad-sales group.

A former local-ad-sales support specialist for Turner Network Sales, Oxygen’s Chunn admits that it’s increasingly difficult for cable-industry account executives to explain the nuances of local-advertising options. “I don’t see how some of these account executives are selling 50-plus networks,” she says.

Both WE and Oxygen know they have to work harder to woo local sales. With cable systems serving 85% of Oxygen’s households now inserting local commercials, the network is supporting more customized efforts in selected markets than in the past.

That closer relationship is new, but Chunn considers it the reality of the market: “MSOs are looking for really customized, high-value promotions.”