Living Social: Daily deal for a cable show?

Ideas November 14, 2010 7:57 pm

Great Migrations

Could a cable channel use a Living Social deal (or another group buying platform) to promote tune in for a new show?

Example: Great Migrations on the National Geographic Channel

A quick synopsis:

“National Geographic Channel’s Great Migrations is a seven-part global television event that takes viewers around the world on the arduous journeys millions of animals undertake to ensure the survival of their species. Shot from land and air, in trees and cliff-blinds, on ice floes and underwater, Great Migrations tells the formidable, powerful stories of many of the planet’s species and their movements, while revealing new scientific discoveries with breathtaking high-definition clarity.”

I think Tom Shales of the Washington Post recapped the show best:

“‘Stunningly’ beautiful? ‘Rapturously’ beautiful? ‘Shockingly’ beautiful? You can marry a dozen adverbs to ‘beautiful’ and still not capture the compelling grandeur of ‘Great Migrations,’ a wondrous new jaw-dropper… [i]t’s movingly beautiful too, in both senses of ‘moving’ — physical and emotional.”

My first thought- wow, it’s a ‘global’ television event.  That’s huge!  Think of the millions of potential viewers not only in the US but around the world! And beautiful imagery of animals and the world around us?  You’ve got me hooked! But hmmm, the show also sounds a bit familiar… I’m thinking the BBC’s ‘Planet Earth’ and ‘Life’ sound quite similar (and yes, that’s not a typo- the BBC produced the films, not Discovery).  Both of these films were beautiful in their own right and are a standout in the natural history film category– but then again, so is Great Migrations.  While all 3 films are similar in genre, all 3 do offer something different for viewers.   The problem is to then convince the average viewer to tune into Great Migrations when they’re probably thinking, ‘I’ve seen that already… twice.’

I think the answer lies in marketing-  adding something different in the marketing plan.  Something to shake things up, reach new viewers, and perhaps get a little extra press.  What if Great Migrations (or any other major cable special) used the Living Social (or other group buying platform) platform as another advertising avenue?

Let me walk you through the idea:

First, how does Living Social work?  Basically, it’s an advertising outlet for small, local businesses.  Living Social offers discounts to email subscribers on anything from food to beauty to activities.   An example deal on Living Social— pay $15 for $30 worth of sushi at your favorite sushi bar.  The business and Living Social negotiate a deal on revenue per transaction, but unlike traditional advertising, businesses don’t pay anything upfront- they only pay on deals they sell (think like a 40/60 split on the $15- Living Social gets 40% of the listed price, the company pockets the 60%).  And Living Social’s email list isn’t small– think over 300,000 in the Northern Virginia area alone.   And Living Social is in over 100 US markets and 4 markets abroad– that’s quite an email list if you were to do a multi-market or even national deal.

For a small local business like our sushi bar,  think about advertising costs for reaching those 300,000 people in Northern Virginia through traditional print/television/outdoor advertising.  I’m just going to put it out there— it’s going to be a lot more than what the business will have to pay Living Social for the transactions.   And thinking grander (ahem Great Migrations grand), what’s it going to cost to reach an equivalent number of customers/viewers on Living Social’s global email list through traditional means?  Hmm, I’m thinking a lot, lot more.

Let’s talk worst/best case scenarios.

Worst case scenario– your deal is a stinker.  Out of the 300,000 emails Living Social sent out (still using a single market example), only 200 people bought into the deal.  For a small local business, this could still be huge- even if people didn’t buy the deal, they most likely read the email (an insider tells me Living Social has a significantly higher click through rate than most email blasts) and boom– free advertising.

Best case scenario- the deal is a whopping success- the huge increase in volume will more than make up for the discount in services/payment to Living Social.  Also, what’s the ratio of purchase to redemption?  It’s not even close to 100% my friends…  chances are, the business is getting lots of ‘free’ money when people forget to redeem before expiration.

How is this applicable to National Geographic and Great Migrations?  Why couldn’t there have been a Living Social deal for the National Geographic’s Great Migrations that offers a discount on Great Migrations/National Geographic merchandise?  The National Geographic store is online, so the deal could have been global (Living Social has distribution in UK and a few other European countries)- just like the show.  In fact, it could have been Living Social’s first global deal… pressworthy? new? different? I think so.

How National Geographic’s  Great Migrations could have promoted through Living Social:  offering a discount on Great Migrations merchandise (or general store merchandise) while promoting tune in for the show (through the ad copy).  A global deal could offer a whole new audience for National Geographic- I’m guessing the demographics for the Living Social distribution list are just a tad different than the demographics for the National Geographic distribution list.  And similar to most online stores, at point of purchase National Geographic asks the buyer if they would like to ‘opt out’ of the distribution list– you’re automatically opted in to the emails unless you decline.  So that means lasting benefits for National Geographic- an increase in global distribution and a wider demographic base.  And the cost?  Significantly less than a global marketing campaign through traditional means that would reach an equivalent number of people on Living Social’s global distribution list.

Here’s what I’m thinking the basic flow of the copy (not even pretending I could be a copywriter, so read for flow, not copy) could look like for the Living Social email blast:

Great Migrations premieres tonight at 8p.  What Great Migration is all about.  Great Migrations has great merchandise to accompany the show and it’s all available online at a discount through Living Social.

Living Social normally includes a picture of the company, so it could be a picture for Great Migrations that states tune in time and web address.  Or why not step things up a notch and have a video play when the picture is clicked— the trailer for the show.  I’m sure it’s more than possible to replace the picture with a video.

Man, this idea is getting better and better:  you have visual and video tune in for the show and a web address for Great Migrations  and the Nat Geo store.   And it’s fresh.  To my knowledge, no other cable channel has advertised through Living Social…and Living Social hasn’t done a global deal yet. Hmm, PR opportunity here for both parties?  “National Geographic goes beyond the traditional marketing mix and looks to social media for Great Migrations campaign– inks cable TV’s first Living Social deal .”  And conversely, “Living Social is the first daily deal site to have a global deal, partners with National Geographic Channel for the premiere of Great Migrations.”

What an intriguing concept- unlike traditional marketing where the company pays upfront to reach viewers, Living Social provides the opportunity for companies only to pay for those who buy in– yet the company still gets ‘free’ reach for those who are on the email distribution list.  Heck, even if 90% of the emails weren’t opened and there were only a few deals, Nat Geo didn’t pay a dime for waste— and let’s get real– advertisers want to avoid as much waste as possible.  (and there’s always waste, its the nature of the business)  Using Living Social could also extend the viewing experience, taking the show beyond the traditional screen.

So what do you think?  A new venture for cable channels to consider?  The idea of not paying for waste in advertising intrigues me- are there other options for advertisers that could result in less waste?

Here’s basically what the deal would look like:

Great Migrations Living Social