‘Cakes’ campaign may sweeten Food Network’s image

Lifestyle entertainment portal Food Network looks to be about more than cooking and to attract a broader primetime audience by promoting its “bad boy” baking show, “Ace of Cakes,” in a multichannel campaign begun Jan. 15 that features interactive banners and online videos.
The show stars Duff, a sunglasses-wearing biker and former graffiti artist who bakes and builds elaborate, creative cakes. Its second season premiered Jan. 18. Interactive agency Agency.com handled the online elements of the campaign, targeted at “foodies” and cultural creatives ages 18-49.
“It’s a different kind of show,” said Lana Chan, account manager at Agency.com, New York. “We wanted to perpetuate that with our creative.”
Print design elements, used in offline pushes and created by agencies MediaStorm and Filter, were adapted for online expandable banners and the show’s Web site at http://www.aceofcakestv.com/.
“[Food Network] allowed us to take the general print images and reinvent them,” said Doug Rowell, creative director at Agency.com.
The online ad units feature a picture of Duff and a German shepherd-shaped cake. The unit expands and lets users roll over the cake to reveal ingredients and play a video clip of how each part was made.
“Our whole idea is not to disrupt content on the page but instead guide the eye,” said Tom Ajello, vice president of creative at Agency.com. “We decided that it was such an interesting and engaging show that even standard direct messaging should pull the reader into it.”
The ads, which will run on sites such as Ask Men, People.com, VH1, TV.com and Gawker, display the show’s air time and a link to its site. The campaign will measure click-through rates and time spent in the units, though an additional goal is driving traffic from Web to TV.
That being said, the network plans to expand the amount of video content available online, Mr. Rowell said.
“Food Network is a loyal and brave partner that is willing to take risks,” he said. “They look at [online video content] as an accent and a contributor [to television programming], not as a direct threat.”
Food Network, New York, is distributed to 85 million U.S. households and has 5 million Web site users. E.W. Scripps Co., which also owns and operates Home & Garden Television Network, Do It Yourself, Fine Living and Shop At Home is the manager and general partner.
To reach its younger target audience, Food Network has a co-branded partnership with YouTube. “Ace of Cakes” video and ad units will appear on the Food Network home page and other pages, directing users to the show’s YouTube page. The “Ace of Cakes” YouTube page will feature video content from the program. There also will be an expandable ad in the AIM buddy list window, which will show a video clip of the show.
The “Ace of Cakes” site itself features seven interactive pages, containing pop-up features such as a “Real or Cake?” quiz that asks visitors to guess whether an image is an actual object or just dessert.
“We get that the online audience is smart and savvy,” Mr. Rowell said. “We want to create an experience. The goal is to give them something engaging and fun that [brings] equity to the brand.”

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