NEW YORK Despite last year's setbacks—filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in May and financially restructuring in December—Ion Television has seen some success in 2010. The four-year-old network, which broadcasts shows and movies produced by other TV outlets, registered a more than 72 percent increase in total viewers between October 2009 and September this year. Ion now sees itself as the fastest-growing network, and to drive home that claim launched a series of marketing initiatives last week. This entailed making stops at the offices of eight ad agencies with a truck styled into a greenhouse, building a rock climbing wall shaped like a tree in the Flatiron district's pedestrian plaza for a consumer contest, and entertaining more than 400 partners at a cocktail reception that included contortionists and a digital graffiti wall.
Prompted by the October 4 debut of an updated graphics package and business-to-business advertising campaign, Ion created the events as a way to spread the word to as large an audience as possible. “This [marketing initiative] is to tout the fact that we're the fastest-growing network and we've had incredible growth over the past year. We wanted to make sure our agencies and clients know it,” said Chris Addeo, vice president of marketing for Ion Media Networks. “What we're trying to do is mostly a B-to-B push, but we're trying to hit the consumer angle as well.”
With the flurry of promotions from other TV networks last month and Thanksgiving fast approaching, doing the push in October meant Ion didn't have to fight for attention. “We wanted to launch the new graphics package outside the September premiere clutter, and we definitely wanted to unveil it before the end of the year without running into the holiday season. So we thought October would be an ideal time and one where the weather would still be [pleasant enough] for us to do it,” Addeo said.
The weather did hold up for Ion's efforts, and the relatively mild temperatures and lack of rain allowed the network to make the most of its central marketing component, a 24-foot-long, glass-walled truck that toured the offices of eight agencies Tuesday through Thursday. The makeshift greenhouse parked on the street acted as an attention-grabbing gathering point, where Ion execs could interact with agency reps and hand out potted plants to anyone who stopped by.
The truck was, as Addeo described, “a moving billboard,” and so the network also brought it to its other activations. On Wednesday afternoon, it was parked at 23rd Street at Broadway, drawing attention to a freestanding rock climbing wall that was planted opposite the Flatiron building for 20 students from Simon Baruch Middle School 104 to scale. And on Thursday, the branded vehicle stood at the foot of Skylight West for the client-focused event.
Additionally, Ion is employing Facebook to shore up its promotional efforts. The network has launched a contest on its social media page, encouraging fans to share photos and videos of themselves that fit its tagline “Positively Entertaining.”