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Food Net Serves Up $3 Mil. Marketing Campaign


Aug 14, 2008

By Anthony Crupi

Food Network is cooking up a new $3 million marketing campaign designed to lure more female viewers to its daytime instructional block, “In the Kitchen.”
Beginning Friday, Aug. 15, Food Net will launch a three-week, multimedia offensive anchored by two recently minted on-air personalities: Aida Mollenkamp of the Saturday afternoon show Ask Aida, and Sunny Anderson, host of Sunday morning’s Cooking for Real.

Marking the first time Food has built a campaign around the daytime cooking block, the initiative includes national buys on female-skewing nets Oxygen and VH1, as well as spot cable, print, out-of-home and word-of-mouth, thanks to a partnership with the online marketing agency SheSpeaks.

According to Food Net vp, marketing Susie Fogelson, the incentive behind the campaign is to turn up the heat on the In the Kitchen daypart, which until recently has simmered on the back burner. (For promotional purposes, Food’s blazing prime-time lineup tends to get pushed to the front of the stovetop.)

"We’ve been using daytime as a venue for introducing new talent, and Aida and Sunny have been great finds," Fogelson said. "The idea is to introduce these ladies as your girlfriends, in that they’re fun women to hang out with. They’ll give you a lot of great tips and you’ll learn a lot from them, but you’re also going to have a good time with them when you tune in, because they’re real.

Mollenkamp and Anderson are each featured in their own individual 15-second spots, which give viewers a little insight into their distinct personalities. In the first spot, a stand-in for an 8-year-old Mollenkamp impresses her classmates by identifying a bunch of manzano bananas by touch. (As the subtitle reveals, the San Franciscan is a total food geek.)

Anderson’s spot also depicts her as a precocious young foodie, while emphasizing her enthusiasm for German cuisine. An Army brat, Anderson spent some of her formative years in Germany, which remains a touchstone for her in the kitchen.
A 30-second spot joins both creatives, and ends with an invitation to join both women every weekend.

Foregoing nets that skew particularly young or old, Food Net bought time on Oxygen and VH1 in order to reach an upscale audience of women 25-54. We like the vibe at these networks, because that’s where our girls are" Fogelson said. “We share a younger, more contemporary audience, but at the same time we’re not talking to 20-year-olds.

Spot buys are targeted to top 20 DMAs, Fogelson said. The creative was developed by the independent, female-focused agency Womenkind, a first-time partner with Food Net. Fogelson said that Food decided to go with the boutique shop because they’re totally vested in how to speak to women.

Other parts of the plan include print (People, Us Weekly, Jet), radio, online and out-of-home, which ranges from series placement on Jet Blue’s seat-back TV service to a more terrestrial in-store creative, which lands call-outs for Ask Aida onto specially branded grocery carts.

Another component of the campaign is being handled by the New York-based research and marketing agency SheSpeaks, which specializes in word-of-mouth. According to Fogelson, some 25,000 women in the national SheSpeaks network will watch Ask Aida and Cooking for Real, serving as a huge focus group for the series.
“The SheSpeaks panelists will provide feedback, and of course as tastemakers, they’ll be inclined to tell their friends about the shows,” Fogelson said. “The risk is that they may not like the shows, but we feel strongly that they’re going to love these women, and will want to tell everyone they know about them.”
Since May, when Food began an overhaul of its In the Kitchen block, tweaking legacy programs like Rachael Ray’s 30-Minute Meals and introducing new personalities like Mollenkamp and Anderson, the instructional daypart has caught fire. In the second quarter, Food grew its total day ratings by 9 percent, averaging 580,000 viewers, while posting tasty gains among its core demos. (In the quarter, the net boosted its standing among viewers 18-49 by 30 percent, landing it in ad-supported cable’s top 20 in total day.)
And while prime time has always been the main area of focus for Food, Fogelson said that the daytime hours are really the heart and soul of the network. “Cooking is what we’re all about, and I’d say that our instructional shows skew about 80 to 85 percent female. Since this is an area where we think we have a lot of room to grow, we’re really going for the female jugular,” she said. “Since they’re the ones who are watching, why not zero in on that target?”
Ask Aida airs on Food Net Saturdays at 12:30 p.m. Cooking for Real can be seen on Sunday mornings at 10:30 a.m.