Marketing Campaign Case Studies

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


In September 1995 Discovery Communications, Inc., made the move to the World Wide Web when it invested $10 million to launch Discovery Channel Online ( The new website featured news, nonfiction articles, options such as online shopping, and information about Discovery Channel’s programming. At the time of its launch, Greg Moyer, president and chief operating officer of Discovery Networks, said the company was ‘‘extremely bullish’’ about the fast-growing online medium. Within five years of its launch, 4 million users each month were logging on to In February 2000 the company made the decision to take advantage of the dot-com surge and combine its Internet and other media assets into a new business unit at an investment of $500 million spread over a five-year period.
To promote its new and improved website, (a subsidiary of Discovery Communications) and its agency, Publicis & Hal Riney, San Francisco, launched a national marketing campaign themed ‘‘Two Guys’’ with the tagline ‘‘Discover something new every day.’’ The campaign, part of’s $70 million consumer advertising budget for the year, included print ads, Web elements, and television spots that ran on the Discovery Channel and sister networks Animal Planet and the Travel Channel. The advertising featured two middleaged men poorly disguised as a variety of characters, from mosquitoes to meteors, discussing things they had learned on the website just before meeting an untimely and unusual demise. In a TV spot one of the mosquito men gets swatted by his victim, and in another the meteor guys both burst into flames. The campaign was a hit with consumers. Following its June 2000 launch the number of users visiting the website increased one percentage point (based on the number of people using the Internet at any particular moment). Although the ads resonated with consumers, in August, at the end of its preplanned summer run and without comment from, the campaign was canceled.

Discovery Communications launched the cable network Discovery Channel in June 1985 with 156,000 subscribers. As it grew Discovery Communications continued to add networks and subscribers, and in 2000 the company listed Animal Planet, the Travel Channel, BBC America, and the Learning Channel among its cable network holdings. In addition the company had begun to expand internationally into countries that included Latin America and Asia. Total subscribers for its combined networks had reached 269 million households by 2000. As part of its expansion, Discovery Communications in 1995 invested $10 million in a new venture and launched its website, In 2000 the company expanded the website and developed it as a new wholly owned subsidiary with a planned financial investment of $500 million spread over a fiveyear period. While the investment in the project seemed huge, Gary Alden, principal analyst of Arlen Communications, told Broadcasting & Cable, ‘‘Five hundred million is not that much money in Internet terms. It’s a traditional media company in the era of Time Warner–
AOL doing what it has to do to launch new kinds of businesses.’’
The reinvented website combined the resources of all of Discovery Communications’ networks into one location on the Internet. It also offered users E-mail and messaging features and included plans to add options such as ‘‘Discovery Be-There Adventures’’ using advanced video technology. The company described as a ‘‘super-vertical’’ website that offered users information about travel, lifestyle, health, animals, kids, and other topics. Discovery Communications chairman and chief executive officer John Hendricks said of the new venture, ‘‘We’re layering on a very successful online service,’’ and he explained various possible options to help finance the project, including an IPO or existing shareholders’ investments.
To promote and to encourage people browsing the Internet to visit the site, Discovery Communications planned to increase the site’s on-air advertising by 200 percent. Shortly after the upgraded website’s introduction, Discovery Communications launched its ‘‘Two Guys’’ marketing campaign.
Discovery Communications had built a following of 180 million total subscribers familiar with its offerings of ‘‘nonfiction entertainment’’ from nature documentaries to informational programming airing on its various networks. The mission of the ‘‘Two Guys’’ campaign was to attract Discovery’s traditional viewers to its upgraded and relaunched website and to encourage younger audiences connected to the Internet to visit the site when searching for information on a broad range of topics from travel destinations to health-care questions. Using over-the-top humor and what PR Newswire described as a ‘‘hip, popsavvy attitude,’’ the campaign was designed to reach consumers across all age demographics and show them they could find information relevant to their day-to-day lives on in each of seven categories: health, discoveries, lifestyle, travel, school, animals, and kids. According to Adweek Western Advertising News, executives explained, ‘‘The campaign is built on the traditional Discovery brand, but tries to play to a younger consumer with an offbeat sense of humor.’’

In 2000 the National Geographic Society was an icon more than 100 years old. Besides publishing its namesake magazine, through its wholly owned subsidiary National Geographic Ventures, the society had established a presence on television with its cable network, National Geographic Channel US, listing 25 million households as subscribers, and on the Internet with its website, As was making changes to its website, National Geographic announced efforts to expand its presence on the Internet as well, but rather than revamping its existing site the company formed alliances with two existing companies having websites: and was an online marketplace that specialized in selling handcrafted works from artisans in developing countries. According to a report in Business Wire, the terms of the alliance gave National Geographic a 19 percent share in the dot-com, with rights to increase that to almost 30 percent. Rick Allen, president and chief executive officer of National Geographic Ventures, told Business Wire, ‘‘For more than a century National Geographic has enabled hundreds of millions of people to travel to the far corners of the globe—at least from their armchairs. Novica makes it easy for individuals to experience another culture through its art.’’ For those who preferred to leave their armchairs at home, National Geographic in 2000 also acquired a 30 percent share in, an online resource for adventure travel. National Geographic added’s database of some 5,000 trips to 152 countries to its website, and added National Geographic Expeditions to it site. A&E Television Networks, with 80 million total subscriber households in 2000, also announced plans to increase its Internet offerings. In addition to having websites (including,, and tied to its various cable channels, one proposed site ( was developed to compete directly with Discovery Communications’ website,, according to Todd Tarpley, vice president of A&E’s interactive unit, as reported in Multichannel News. Additionally the company launched an updated version of its most popular site, historychannel. com, which attracted more than one-third of the combined 1.1 million people using the company’s six sites.

Cable subscribers who regularly tuned in to the Discovery Channel were familiar with the network’s unique documentaries that included up-close-and-personal views of wildlife, from the common to the rare, as well as other nonfiction programming on a variety of topics. Discovery Communications’ challenge was attracting those television viewers to its upgraded and relaunched website, To encourage its viewing audience to join the 4 million people visiting its site each month, and its agency, Publicis & Hal Riney, San Francisco, launched the ‘‘Two Guys’’ campaign with the tagline ‘‘Discover something new every day.’’ The national campaign, part of’s overall $70 million advertising budget, kicked off in June and included print ads in magazines and newspapers, television spots running on Discovery Communications’ various cable networks, and Web elements. Tim Maleeny, senior vice president and account director with Publicis & Hal Riney, San Francisco, described the campaign as raw, bold, and edgy. ‘‘We thought it was time to use humor to present the Discovery brand from a different perspective,’’ he told Adweek Western Advertising News. Television spots featured shots of bugs, animals, and other things found in nature that Discovery Channel viewers expected but with a twist: the parts were played by two guys in bad disguises. One ad showed the guys, dressed as mosquitoes, land on someone’s arm. The mosquito men discuss’s many positive qualities while sucking up the victim’s blood through straws. In true mosquito fashion, one of the insects is squashed by a well-placed smack from the victim. Another spot had the two guys dressed as meteors sharing information they found on Just as one meteor guy comments that he learned meteors burn up in the earth’s atmosphere, the camera zooms in to show the two guys burst into flames.

The ‘‘Two Guys’’ campaign was a success if measured by consumer response. According to Broadcasting & Cable,’s user traffic, which was estimated at 4 million online visits per month prior to the campaign, increased by a full percentage point based on the percentage of all people using the Internet at any point in time. Despite the campaign’s popularity with consumers and the increased site visits generated by the television spots and print ads,, without comment, canceled the entire campaign at the end of its preplanned summer-only run.

No comments: