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Discovery Channel launches cross-network ad campaign with Microsoft

The Discovery Channel and Microsoft Advertising have launched a three-screen campaign spanning mobile, the Internet and gaming to capture "The Deadliest Catch" fan base.

On April 14, the Discovery Channel executed an MSN Mobile home page takeover in conjunction with the MSN home page takeover to promote the season premiere of "The Deadliest Catch" television series. In addition, Microsoft subsidiary ScreenTonic created a WAP site that uses the Microsoft Advertising mobile platform.

"Our advertising strategy for this campaign was to create a presence that surrounds our viewer throughout the day by owning multiple touchpoints within the Microsoft network," said Danelle Sabathier, director of digital media marketing for Discovery Networks, Silver Spring, MD. "With Microsoft's broad reach and wealth of properties, it was a great opportunity.

"The campaign includes an impressive breadth of Microsoft ad products running across the Microsoft network of assets, all designed to reach viewers throughout the day no matter what platform they are using," she said. "Mobile provides another key touchpoint to reach consumers on the go."

The Discovery Channel reaches 98.1 million viewers in the United States and can be seen in more than 170 countries, offering TV programming across genres, including science and technology, exploration, adventure and history.

"The Deadliest Catch" advertising campaign, which spans MSN, MSN Mobile, Windows Live Hotmail, Microsoft Live Search and Xbox Live, is designed to drum up excitement for the premiere of the fifth season of the channel's highly-rated reality series about crab fishing in the waters off Alaska.

Viewers could interact with the Deadliest Catch WAP site and enter their mobile phone numbers to receive tune-in reminders for the show via text message.

Because of Microsoft Advertising's publisher portfolio and breadth of cross-network media properties, Discovery chose to devote the show's entire online advertising budget to this campaign.

The main advertising push happened across Microsoft's Media Network on April 14, when the new season debuted at 9 p.m. ET/PT on the Discovery Channel.

Discovery bought more than 90 percent of the advertising inventory owned on MSNBC, Fox Sports, MSN, MSN Mobile and Xbox Live for that day and featured the first-ever home page conjunction takeover across MSN and MSN Mobile.

The campaign involved a variety of Microsoft-developed video, mobile and interactive media, as well as in-game advertising assets supported by Microsoft subsidiary Massive Inc.

Microsoft Advertising simultaneously wove together Discovery's "Deadliest Catch" campaign and divided it into seven distinct audience engagement scenarios, including advertising on MSN Mobile, the WAP site powered by ScreenTonic and SMS tune-in reminders.

Xbox Live
"The Deadliest Catch" campaign will be running a number of click-to-video executions across the Xbox Live platform with a call-to-action Deadliest Catch Text to Win Sweepstakes.

The sweepstakes provides viewers with a specific mobile SMS code to text for a chance to win Microsoft Points that can be used to buy games, movies and television shows through the on-demand service.

Discovery plans to give away 2 million Microsoft Points to an expected 5,000 winners during a four-day period.

In conjunction with this campaign, Discovery will run long-form video teasers to excite the Xbox audience about tuning in to the season premiere.

Microsoft will also participate in the first-ever CatchCon event -- a "Deadliest Catch" one-day fan festival being held at the Bell Harbor Conference Center in Seattle, on April 25.

The event will include an Xbox lounge featuring Greenwave's "Deadliest Catch Alaskan Storm" video game for Xbox 360.

Using the Massive in-game advertising platform, Discovery is placing targeted ads throughout the experience to capture users at peak gaming time, with a focus on games played by audiences who embrace an edgy, fast-paced lifestyle: Ubisoft's "Shaun White Snowboarding" and "Rainbow Six Vegas 2," and Electronic Arts' "Skate 2," "Madden ?09," "Mercenaries 2," "Need for Speed Undercover" and "NHL ?09."

These ad units will also include the SMS codes for the Deadliest Catch Text to Win Sweepstakes.

MSN Home Page
On the day of the premiere, Discovery reached MSN's audience base of more than 550 million unique users worldwide by executing a home page takeover using rich, interactive over-the-page ads.

This custom execution was developed by Microsoft's Premier Media Group and accomplished several firsts on the MSN home page, such as setting DVR reminders for fans, updating their calendar and sending text alerts and e-mails.

MSN Video and MSNBC Video
Throughout the life of the campaign, the "Deadliest Catch" will take advantage of MSN Video's Entertainment and Sports channels, which own nearly 40 percent of MSN's video audience.

Discovery will run another custom execution called a Transitional Skin on the MSNBC video player, the first time an entertainment advertiser has taken advantage of this unique opportunity.

Windows Live Hotmail
Windows Live Hotmail will feature demographically targeted ads to coincide with the Fox Sports and MSNBC ad placements.

Live Search
To round out its ad buy, Discovery is taking advantage of Microsoft Advertising's adCenter platform and buying search keywords to help drive awareness to the newest season of "Deadliest Catch."

"Deadliest Catch appeals to a wide audience of curiosity seekers and adventure enthusiasts," Ms. Sabathier said. "Within that audience, there is strong fan base of slightly younger, more male fans, which correlates strongly with MSN Mobile users, making mobile a great addition to the campaign."