National Geographic Wild has been looking to make a big
noise for its Big Cat Week, which begins Sunday.
The network expects the programming stunt to result in its
highest-rated week for the third straight year. But on top of producing
programming and attracting an audience, the channel is involved in programs
designed to learn more about and preserve the big cats.
Geoff Daniels, Nat Geo Wild executive VP and general manager, says
Big Cat Week, which this year is the culmination of a year-long commitment to
the magnificent beasts, is more than the channel's version of Discovery's
venerable Shark Week.
"It's very much a brand-definitional event for us. The kind
of content that we're able to showcase really represents that best attributes
of our brand," Daniels says.
Daniels points to a show highlighting snow leopards in
Afghanistan featuring Boone Smith. "We were able to take one of our guys, who
was working with scientists in one of the world most dangerous places," he
says. "It's not only awe-inspiring programming that is edge of the seat kind of
drama, but we're actually able to contribute to real scientific research."
Sponsors Geico and Hershey's Ice Breakers have backed
quarterly specials throughout the year and will be prominent during Big Cat
Week, with special vignettes highlighting their brands.
Two-year-old Wild has been making a multifaceted marketing
effort to get people to tune in.
In addition to on-air promos and traditional off-air ads on
cable, print and digital, the network has launched some unique promotional
"We tried to create some really buzz-worthy, breakthrough
marketing tactics that hopefully reach an audience and drive them to tune in,"
says Courteney Monroe, chief marketing officer for National Geographic Channels.
The network has had a
presence at 26 NBA games in New York, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Dallas and
Washington, D.C., that includes distributing big foam claws to fans, a Big Cat
Cam and an Unleash the Roar noise meter. In Washington, the Wizards'
cheerleaders performed a Big Cats inspired dance.
An iPad app allows users to play a Big Cat Week "Quest for
Survival" game in which they take on the role of lioness hunting prey in the
Wild also formed a partnership with Socialcam.com that
encouraged consumers to share their best roars. For each video uploaded, the
network made a donation to the Big Cat Initiative, designed to protect the
The network also worked with 20th Century Fox and
its film Life of Pi, which features a
tiger, on a PSA campaign running across Fox networks (Wild and 20th are part of
Wild is also running its own PSA campaign for its Big Cat
Initiative showing animals trying out to be the King of Beasts. "While really
devoted to raising awareness and money for the cause, obviously has the halo
effect of driving awareness and tune in for Big Cat Week as well," Monroe says.