- The Washington Times - Sunday, June 15, 2003

Black Entertainment Television (BET) has pulled out all the stops and added a tongue-in-cheek approach to promote the biggest awards show in the network’s history.

The national campaign, which began last month, is touting the third annual “BET Awards,” airing June 24.

The ads use the theme “No expense spared … except for the advertising,” which implies that BET is spending a lot on the star-studded event but not on the advertising. BET created a comical low-budget look for its ads. For instance, a print ad features stick figures promoting the show.

Despite the look, the $2 million multimedia campaign is anything but low-budget. About $1.2 million was spent on advertising, and BET was able to barter about $800,000 worth of ad time on other TV networks owned by parent Viacom.

“This is our No. 1 priority of the year,” said Kelli Lawson, executive vice president for marketing and communications at District-based BET. “The show [produces] huge ratings that translate into ad dollars.”

Last year, 4.4 million viewers tuned in to the awards show, making it the most-watched entertainment special in BET’s 23-year history.

Beginning in May, the company started advertising for the big event by offering contests and other promotions. The grass-roots tactics included word-of-mouth advertising at 75 beauty salons and barber shops in the top 15 markets and promotions at Magic Johnson Theatres.

This week, BET will make an even bigger push to get viewers to tune in by airing more TV ads and adding more radio spots and print advertising.

Mrs. Lawson said this is BET’s most extensive marketing campaign for the show, which will hand out awards including video of the year, best male and female rhythm-and-blues artist, and best male and female hip-hop artist.

Baltimore studio closes

Flite 3 Studios has shut its doors after 44 years. The Baltimore-based audio and video production facility laid off its 15 employees last week.

The company said several factors led to its demise, including the struggling economy and the fact that more projects are being produced outside Maryland and in other countries.

“Flite 3 was faced with declining business prospects and fixed margin expenses, a combination that no longer justified continuing operations,” Chairman E. Magruder “Mac” Passano said.

Flite 3 has worked with area ad agencies and provided audio services for the TV series “Homicide: Life on the Street.” Film credits include “My Best Friend’s Wedding,” “Runaway Bride,” Barry Levinson’s “Avalon” and John Waters’ “Hairspray,” among others.

In the winners circle

• Four Washington-area companies won Silver Addy awards at the American Advertising Federation’s national Addy competition earlier this month. Among the 1,764 entries, 123 Gold Addys and 198 Silver Addys were awarded.

Silver Addys were given to Porter Novelli, Silver Marketing, White & Baldacci and Friends of the National Zoo.

• The American Marketing Association’s D.C. Chapter announced last month the winners of its first annual M Awards honoring area marketers. Top marketers for 2003 included New Height Group/Felix Design for consumer retail, Reingold Inc. for government and military, Inova Health Systems and RightMinds for health care, O’Keeffe & Co. for high-tech, Hinge Inc. for nonprofit/association, and Robbins-Gioia for professional services.

Robbins-Gioia, with headquarters in Alexandria, also received the Marketer of the Year award.

Got news? Donna De Marco can be reached at 202/636-4884. Advertising and Marketing appears every other Monday.

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