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ABC Family Scares Up a Goodie Bag

10/14/2005 8:00 PM Eastern

Shoppers and kids who visit stores and restaurants this month can take home a Halloween goodie bag home as part of an integrated promotion from ABC Family.

The retail-centric, local ad-sales promotion is tied to the network’s annual “13 Nights of Halloween” programming stunt, to run from Oct. 19 to 31 this spooky season.

The 60 hours will be highlighted by new episodes and a marathon of the net’s Scariest Places on Earth franchise, and the basic-cable premiere of M. Night Shyamalan’s hit theatrical The Sixth Sense.

125 SYSTEMS ON BOARD

More than 125 systems with almost 20 million subscribers signed on for the local-sales promotion. “We almost doubled our target of 10 million,” said Gary Perrelli, vice president of affiliate advertising sales at Disney and ESPN Media Networks.

Among the participating distributors or their ad sales units: Adelphia Media Services, Bright House Networks, Bresnan Communications, Cable One Inc., Comcast Spotlight, Charter Communications Inc., Cox Media, MidContinent Communications, Knology Inc., OnMedia, Lovecomm, Insight Communications and Time Warner Cable.

The locally linked Halloween initiative returns after a one-year hiatus, according to Perrelli.

“Our affiliates said Halloween is a strong holiday, but they didn’t want a sweepstakes per se, because ABC Family has its 25 Days of Christmas [local sales promotion] coming up. They wanted something that was very turnkey, easy to administer, without the entry and registration forms that are involved with a sweepstakes.”

To that end, ABC Family devised a non-market exclusive promotion through which local ad sales groups could target outlets that trade heavily on the holiday.

“Affiliates are telling us that they’ve been able to do deals with local costume and party shops and haunted houses, as well as quick-service restaurants like Subway and Arby’s, family restaurants and amusement parks,” said Adam Fried, senior manager of affiliate ad sales marketing at Disney and ESPN Media Networks. “You wouldn’t have guessed it, but some local auto dealerships are also on board.”

Driving interest are the 75,000 Scare Paks, containing such items as stunt-themed window clings, tattoos, magnet frames and a key chain flashlight, distributed to participating outlets.

ABC Family is also equipping the venues with window clings, counter-card displays and posters. Store employees will wear buttons touting the programming event, while in-store monitors run a DVD loop showcasing 13 Days of Halloween segments.

MSO affiliates have been asked to run between 200 and 300 promotional spots, while advertisers also gain exposure via tagging, according to the executives.

Asked to project how many local dollars would be generated by this endeavor, Perrelli said he couldn’t gauge the total, but did note that 13 Days trails only the network’s 25 Days of Christmas promotion in terms of ad revenue generation. This year, that local-sales effort will feature a $50,000 national grand prize winner in cash or holiday goods; local prize packs that can be tapped for local sweepstakes or as an incentive; and a component whereby sponsors can create customized coupons to drive in-store or online.

RETURN LIKELY IN 2006

Although a decision has not yet been finalized Perrelli said the strong affiliate reaction all but assures a similar local ad-sales endeavor behind 13 Nights of Halloween in 2006. He noted that ABC Family will look to “expand the target.”

“We’ll lock down our schedule after the first of the year. That’s when we’ll communicate to affiliates, so they can reserve time.”

September