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Discovery Campaign Teaches Parents About Homework Help Site

Rapp Collins New York is rolling out a multifaceted direct marketing campaign for Cosmeo, Discovery Education's ambitious new online educational site geared to meet nearly every U.S. state's individual educational curriculum.

The campaign encompasses direct response television, cinema, e-mail, direct mail, direct response print, retail exposure, sampling and events at schools.

Rapp siblings OMD and Resolution Media, Chicago and New York, handle paid and organic search, and Stein Rogan + Partners, New York, branding.

“We're really trying to position it as a homework help tool that helps with academic breakthroughs,” said Brian Irving, senior vice president and group account director at Rapp Collins New York.

Media spend was not disclosed.

The campaign targets parents of school-age children with broadband Internet access, encouraging them to visit www.cosmeo.com for a free 30-day trial of the service. Thereafter, they can pay $9.95 a month for a subscription or $99 a year. The site will not run ads.

Cosmeo's edge over sites like Wikipedia or search engines like Google, Yahoo and About.com is its vast inventory of content. There are 30,000 two- to five-minute videos online, 100,000-plus encyclopedia articles, clip art and tools for math. All content and videos are aligned to each state's criteria.

“Certainly, we want to engage students, but we want parents to check it out,” said Patrick Lafferty, senior vice president of marketing at Discovery Education, which shares its Silver Springs, MD, address with parent and cable giant Discovery Communications.

The plan to engage is elaborate. Spots will run on Discovery channels like the flagship Discovery Channel, Animal Planet and TLC. Other buys include HGTV, E!, Lifetime and WE. There is one 30-second awareness spot and two DRTV, one 60 seconds and the other 30.

In print, Discovery Education will run a four-page interactive insert in People's April 23 issue that hits newsstands the week before.

For cinema, the company signed a yearlong deal with Screenvision to run 2 minute, 30 second spots before movies with G or PG ratings. It also will hand out discs with links to Cosmeo as part of a complementary on-premise sampling effort.

The mail component relies on Discovery's house file with relative affinities, plus outside vertical lists of moms expressing interest in children's education. Rapp Collins built the models to test different packages. The first mail piece dropped March 31, and the next one is scheduled for today.

All told, 1.1 million names receive mail pieces and 500,000 get e-mails. There is an overlap across the lists.

Online, Discovery Education is testing keywords related to homework help and subject area on Google and other search engines.

School-based events like Science Nights for hands-on experiments and signage in 120 Discovery retail stores nationwide add the experiential touch. The company placed 10 Cosmeo kiosks outside select Discovery stores.

The call to action in all marketing material is driving consumers to Cosmeo.com. A test with a call-in number failed over the fall. Consumers simply preferred to go online.

“The best campaigns are the ones that empower the person you're trying to reach with the ability to opt in on their terms,” Lafferty said.

“So what we want to do is provide a continuum where we are infusing, making them aware and then getting them additional information, and then check us out and sign up for a free trial,” he said. “And then affirm that choice so that they subscribe after their 30-day trial.”

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