Discovery Family Channel gets the community treatment with fan-focused events for “My Little Pony” and “Strawberry Shortcake”
To kick off 2015, Priority PR served as the agency of record for Discovery Family Channel and Discovery Life Channel, both of which were undergoing a rebranding effort. Formerly known as the HUB, Discovery Family Channel had a new mission to strengthen its appeal to the children’s audience during the day and families in primetime.
While the primetime lineup was retooled, the channel continued its winning daytime ratings ways with such staples as MY LITTLE PONY, STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE, LITTLEST PET SHOP and TRANSFORMERS, among others. Priority PR tapped a wealth of experience in promoting children’s programming (dating back to launching the original “Mighty Morphin Powers Rangers” and serving as the agency of record for Sesame Workshop) to position and promote new seasons of these hit programs. A big focus of our efforts involving engaging the community… understanding the nuances of the respective fan bases to form greater brand connections and inherent resulting buzz.
For MY LITTLE PONY, the series was unveiling a highly-anticipated fifth season, which included a celebration of its milestone 100th episode. After devising a consumer launch campaign for the episodes, Priority PR aggressively worked the MY LITTLE PONY fan base.
A big highlight was a special screening of the season premiere episodes of MY LITTLE PONY at Bay Area Brony Spectacular (BABS Con 2015) held in suburban San Francisco.
First of all, this screening became the marquee event for the entire three-day conference, which attracted 2,648 registered fans and generated extensive coverage across social media, blogs and enthusiast news outlets. From the very beginning, it had all the makings that something special was about to happen, especially since there hadn’t been new episodes of MY LITTLE PONY for some time. Beginning around 7.30 a.m. on Saturday, April 5th, fans started to line up around the conference section of the Hyatt hotel in Burlingame, eagerly awaiting the doors to open, and the line continued to expand, wrapping around the lobby and other areas of the hotel, as it became closer to the 9.30 a.m. starting time.
To accommodate this main-event screening, BABS Con organizers had booked the Hyatt’s ballroom, a room set up for approximately 2,000 seats in theater style. They had also secured a “spill over” meeting room set up with 150 seats and screening facilities just in case. We spoke with one organizer who was worried about “breaking the fire code” since everyone who had registered for BABS Con was planning to see the premiere episodes.
The doors opened around 9 a.m. with a rush (and we mean rush) of fans into the ballroom eager to secure the best seats in the house. In no time at all, the main ballroom was overflowing. In fact, groups of little girls (most dressed in costumes) sat on the floor in front of the two screens, and people were standing along the side walls (two deep). The “spill over” room also quickly filled up.
Leading up to the screening, an MC engaged the crowd and also led them with a song from MY LITTLE PONY. Despite organizer concerns, the crowd was always under control and civil. There was never a security problem. As the main event began, you could feel the excitement in the air.
During the screening, there was plenty of positive fan interaction. Fans were totally engrossed in the storylines. They cheered at certain plot points, they laughed at the jokes, and they rooted for the characters.
At the end of the screening, the lights went on and the MC said to the crowd: “Was this worth the wait?”
The crowd erupted with thunderous cheers and whistles.
While the press has typically focused on the “Brony” fan aspect of these events, they actually attract people from all walks of life who come together for a truly positive celebration of the MY LITTLE PONY brand.
For STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE, Priority’s goal was to find a community-facing way to celebrate the 35th anniversary of the brand and the premiere of an all-new season of STRAWBERRY SHORTCAKE’S BERRY BITTY ADVENTURES. We wanted to create a positive, interactive experience that brought the brand to a deserving neighborhood to both entertain and help its families. To do so, Priority PR arranged for Discovery Family Channel to team up with the Los Angeles Community Garden Council in hosting a strawberry patch planting event with Strawberry Shortcake and Cherry Jam—live and in costume—in an impoverished neighborhood on Saturday, June 13.
Embracing the show’s core values of friendship, sharing and caring, members of the community rolled up their sleeves with two of their favorite TV characters during a hands-on strawberry planting extravaganza that took place in the Glassell Park Community Garden, the site of a former drug house in an area notoriously ravaged by crime. Since its opening five years ago, the garden has helped transform life for many of the families in Glassell Park.
Among the VIPs secured were LA City Council Member Mitch O’Farrell, Police Captain Jeffrey Bert and child star Kaya Rose Davis. In addition, local vendors donated mini-strawberry shortcake treats and bottled water.
As the 10 a.m. start time approached, guests began streaming in from all around the community, and curious onlookers watched as children played, eagerly anticipating the arrival of some very special guests.
Council Member Mitch O’Farrell arrived just after 10 a.m. and began with a speech to the community and its families. He also welcomed Police Captain Jeffrey Bert, who said a few words, thanked Discovery Family Channel for making this day possible, and introduced our costumed Strawberry Shortcake and Cherry Jam to a round of applause and delighted child squeals. Glassell Park Community Garden Manager Maggie Darett-Quiroz also provided a Spanish translation.
The hour-and-a-half event rolled out smoothly, with the strawberry planting first, followed by photo opportunities and cupcakes passed out to the families by Council Member O’Farrell and Police Captain Bert. As everyone enjoyed the treats, we said goodbye to Strawberry Shortcake, Cherry Jam and O’Farrell (who had originally only planned to stay half an hour) and then hosted the trivia game for Strawberry Shortcake branded prizes (generously donated by Iconix) to wrap everything up.
The community response to the event was positive, as evidenced by the smiles of children and adults alike throughout the festivities. The Los Angeles Garden Council and Glassell Park Community Garden representatives were thankful for the donated children’s tools, which will be used to continue encouraging the community’s youth to consider gardening as a positive alternative to other activities. Overall, this was a major goodwill play for Discovery Family Channel and the Strawberry Shortcake brand that made the residents of one impoverished neighborhood feel special for a couple of hours.
Priority PR, on behalf of Discovery Family Channel, conducted an extensive outreach campaign around the Strawberry Shortcake Community Garden Event, and secured coverage in La Opinion and the Eastsider, with photos also appearing both trade and consumer publications.
As for Discovery Life, the channel formerly known as Discovery Fit & Health is heavily investing its programming strategy in the reality genre. Priority PR handled the consumer publicity roll-out of a number of its new reality series.