It’s July, so it must be time for sharks.

For many people, that immediately conjures up images of Discovery’s highly promoted Shark Week, featuring Snuffy the poor poor seal.

You may not know this, but Nat Geo Wild also offers a week of shark-focused fare, which it calls SharkFest. What’s that you say? That seems like a giant marketing rip-off?

Nat Geo Wild hears you.

That’s why it addressed the issued head-on in the above promo, starring stand-up comedian Rory Scovel.

“We wanted to get attention for the week of programming, so we started talking about different ways to do that. The idea came up of being more transparent about viewer confusion during Shark Week. We thought it would be funny to own that and be playful with it,” says Tyler Korba, creative director for on-air marketing, National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo Wild. “If you can’t have fun doing TV, you shouldn’t be doing it.”

“We’re not that other week of SharkTV. And we want you to confuse the two, and you will and we don’t care because it gets us ratings. We’ve done it for years and we’re going to continue to do it,” says Scovel in the promo. “It’s the same friggin’ sharks anyway. Sharks cannot sign an exclusive contract with a network.”

Being that straightforward with your marketing goals isn’t something that’s commonly seen on TV, but Nat Geo Wild feels comfortable with its brand.

“The network has already established enough of an attitude and the brand voice is playful and provocative. We’re not afraid to stir things up a little bit,” Korba says.

Korba also used a technique that he just talked about at PromaxBDA: The Conference , using improvisational comedy to inspire your creative and marketing work. And Scovel was the perfect choice for this campaign because he has a background in improv comedy, which is how Korba knows him.

“That’s part of the reason we cast Rory,” Korba says. “We had that basic script written and then we wanted him to just cut loose. We had a full day’s shoot scheduled. We got what we needed halfway into the day and after that we just started playing with it. A lot of what’s in that spot is just the best of what we came up with in that day.”

In fact, team got enough material from that day to fill out much of its week-long SharkFest campaign.

“It’s a little bit of aikido,” Korba says. “Once you’ve called it what it is, once you’ve owned it, you’ve turned a potentially awkward thing into a strength.”

Nat Geo Wild’s SharkFest begins Sunday, July 5 at 8 p.m. ET/PT and runs all week.

Credits:

NAT GEO WILD

SVP Creative – Andy Baker

Creative Director – Tyler Korba

Creative Director, Design – Brian Everett

Writer/Senior Producer – James Introcaso

Senior Motion Designer – Matt Jenkins

Editor – June Kim

Sound Design/Mix – Grahame Davies

SUPERLOUNGE

Director – Jordan Brady

Executive Producer – Dave Farrell

Producer – Joel Todaro

TALENT

Rory Scovel

CLEAN CUTS

Producer – Iris D’Arcangelo

Composer – Chris Kennedy


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