Discovery ups ratings with Mammoth

Inside the Space Station (w/t), Discovery's next 'Watch with the World' event which will chronicle the building of the international space station, is tentatively slated to air late December 2000 and must have advertisers drooling....
April 1, 2000

Inside the Space Station (w/t), Discovery’s next ‘Watch with the World’ event which will chronicle the building of the international space station, is tentatively slated to air late December 2000 and must have advertisers drooling.

On Sunday March 12, Raising the Mammoth, Discovery’s second ‘Watch with the World’ special, broke ratings records for the U.S. network by reaping a 7.8 Nielsen rating in its 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. airing, making it the most watched doc in cable television history. The program, which aired again at 10:00 p.m. and midnight, is estimated to have been viewed by 26 million Americans. Mammoth was also the most watched program in Discovery Channel’s history in Canada, the U.K. and Mexico.

The success of Mammoth can be attributed in part to the aggressive marketing that backed the project. ‘One of the objectives we carried through the campaign was marketing this much like a feature film,’ says Susan Campbell, director of advertising and promotion for Discovery Channel. ‘From the time the mammoth was excavated in October, we put out our first teaser trailer. We tend to promote things very close to the air date and here’s something that lived for five months and built and built.’ Discovery ran a theatrical trailer featuring an animated mammoth and expedition footage in 300 theatres across the u.s. Print advertising also ran in consumer magazines such as Premiere, Entertainment Weekly and People.

Outdoor marketing was focused in New York City. Billboards (complete with a three dimensional helicopter), and a Manhattan commuter bus wrapped in a sticker made to look like mammoth fur, decorated the city. One week prior to the program’s broadcast, pint-size Mammoth Munch ice cream (made by Kemps Dairy) with a mammoth-shaped cookie needing to be excavated from its bottom, was distributed throughout N.Y. ‘N.Y. is a high potential market from a consumer base, but it’s also the most important business market. We chose to concentrate non-traditional marketing there to reach those dual objectives,’ explains Campbell.

Discovery also took full advantage of the interactive possibilities available on the Internet. A sweepstakes featuring thematically related prizes (such as a trip to an active mammoth dig in South Dakota) worked with banner advertising, live dispatches from the expedition, e-commerce of mammoth merchandise and other content, to become the sites highest trafficked feature. Between March 7th to 13th, mammoth content received approximately 3.6 million page views.

Inside the Space Station is expected to feature similar multi-platform marketing efforts.

About The Author
Barry Walsh is editor and content director for realscreen, and has served as editor of the publication since 2009. With a career in entertainment media that spans two decades, prior to realscreen, he held the associate editor post for now defunct sister publication Boards, which focused on the advertising and commercial production industries. Before Boards, he served as editor of Canadian Music Network, a weekly music industry trade, and as music editor for As content director, he also oversees the development of content for the brand's market-leading events, the Realscreen Summit and Realscreen West, as well as new content initiatives.