While with a group of friends recently, someone brought up that they heard Michael Phelps was going to be racing a shark. Needless to say, we spent the next 20 minutes debating this topic – primarily just how they were going to pull this stunt off. For those not familiar with “The Battle for Ocean Supremacy” as its being promoted, Discovery Channel announced earlier this summer that Michael Phelps will be racing a great white shark to kick off Shark Week 2017.

This conversation got me thinking how impressive Shark Week is from a marketing perspective. After nearly 30 years, Discovery Channel is still able to pull in millions of viewers each year to watch seven days of programming about sharks. Even I find myself tuning in at some point during the week to watch the jumping sharks off the coast of South Africa and to see if they finally solved the mystery of where great whites give birth.

So how does Discovery Channel pull this off? They capitalize on their brand awareness with creative content. In this post, I will highlight some of the key tactics that they have used in recent years, aside from awe-inspiring shark videos, of course.

Social Media
Discovery has been integrating social media into their programming for years with live feeds from Twitter displaying on-screen during programming to social media Q&A sessions with experts. Additionally, they utilize branded hashtags to promote both the program itself, as well as individual episodes during the week. Finally, this year they will be working with Snapchat to develop custom content that will be available to users during the week, including filters and other content libraries (i.e. stories). Discovery is doing its best to bring audiences closer to the action of Shark Week through these social media interactions during their programming.

Celebrity Marketing
Partnering with Michael Phelps is only one example of Discovery using the fame and appeal of celebrities to promote Shark Week. They have brought in hosts for the week from other Discovery Channel personalities such as Mike Rowe and The Mythbusters to comedians Craig Ferguson and Andy Samberg, and even the author of Jaws, Peter Benchley. Beyond that, other notable personalities have been featured in programming including Paul Walker, Rob Lowe, Blake Lively, Seal, and more. In addition to that, Shark Week receives numerous endorsements each year from celebrity fans via social media posts, whether intentional or not. By capitalizing on these individuals’ popularity and influence, Discovery is able to expand their reach to more potential viewers each year.

Brand Partnerships & Sponsors
Along with celebrities, brands also hop on the Shark Week bandwagon through partnerships and sponsorships – with everything from movie promotions, custom products, co-branded content, and more. For example, as a sponsor of the 2012 program, Volkswagen created a model of their car to drive on the ocean floor. Also, last year the move The Shallows (a movie about sharks) used this programming as a promotional opportunity. These partnerships have also resulted in limited edition shark-themed products, such as with Dunkin Donuts and 7-Eleven. Other companies, simply get wrapped up in the excitement of Shark Week and create oceanic content.

While Shark Week will always have its die-hard viewers, the challenge Discover continually faces is keeping those fans engaged and growing their audience year-over-year. It will be interesting to see what new and innovative content they develop in the years to come.

And for the record, my money is on the shark (sorry Mike).
Share To:

Megan Connell

Post A Comment:

0 comments so far,add yours