By Michael O'Connell Posted January 14, 2009, 10:38 AM EST
It isn’t often that a network plans a launch party for syndicated programming, but it isn’t often that networks seem as genuinely excited by an acquisition as Oxygen is for America’s Next Top Model. The female-centric network brought more than 40 past contestants and several judges from the series to Gotham Hall Monday night for a party and catwalk performance.
“This is a real first for us in terms of how we’re supporting an acquisition,” says Oxygen Media vice president of consumer marketing and brand strategy Karen Bronzo. “We are thinking about this as much bigger than an acquisition. America’s Next Top Model is a perfect show for Oxygen’s audience. Our target is women 18 to 34, and this show is a perfect compliment to them. For us, having it on the schedule will enhance all of our original programming that’s already targeting that audience.”
Oxygen wanted to make a big statement the week of the premiere, so in mid-November it began planning the launch event. Bronzo worked with talent booking firm Flying Television to secure a sizable roster of Top Model winners, runners-up, and other contestants for the party.
What to do with all of those contestants remained to be seen. It seemed a waste to just have them photographed on the red carpet and then lost to the crowd, so Oxygen conceived an idea for a runway show of all of the attending participants. The NBC Universal-owned network looked to its creative services department to help design a stage and runway to compliment the heavily branded aesthetic already planned.
Just an hour into the event, the show got underway, and the models, clad in the outfits they arrived in, took to the catwalk with their best runway walk—some of them clearly much more in practice than others. After the horde of models returned to the stage to dance and pose as a group, two canons burst somewhere near the ceiling, sending thousands of white feathers over the stage and the crowd. Bulb flashes and shutter sound effects from camera phones lingered for a moment, giving the room the look of something not too far off an episode of the show itself.
Oxygen plans to maintain its strategy of cross-promoting on other netowrks in the NBC Universal family and enticing fans of the show with exclusive content on the channel and on its Web site. It all comes to a head this Sunday, when the offical partnership begins with a 13-hour marathon of the series.