Your Haas Network
Michael Smith, MBA 86
Senior Vice President of Marketing & Creative Services, Food Network
New York, NY
With its evening ratings falling like a cold soufflé, the Food Network needed a new strategy for retaining viewers after its popular daytime shows ended. The network turned to Michael Smith, MBA 86, senior vice president of marketing and creative services, to reignite interest in its evening programming and help boost its ratings.
Although the Food Network rose to prominence as one of the ten most-watched networks during the day on the popularity of its instructional cooking stars like Giada De Laurentiis and Paula Deen, it did not command a similar audience after sunset. To win over nighttime viewers, Smith, taking cues from Nickelodeon's Nick at Night strategy, coined a new name and tagline for the Food Network's after-dark broadcast. Calling it Food Network Nighttime: Way More than Cooking, he developed an aggressive marketing strategy that emphasized a move outside Emeril's kitchen.
The lineup Smith marketed was an ambitious departure from traditional food television. In Tasty Travels, chef Rachael Ray hit the road, sampling regional cuisine. And the network found its take on the America's Next Top Model theme in The Next Food Star, a race to find the next Food Network host. The show became a hit and brought new faces to the network, one of Smith's top priorities.
"Talent is our lifeblood," he says.
Smith also partnered Food Network with Hilton Hotels to create special weekend travel packages and worked with Applebee's restaurant to promote new menu items featuring chef Tyler Florence.
Looking ahead, Smith has positioned the Food Network as sponsor for the first ever New York City Wine and Food Festival launching this summer. In the fall, Smith will be marketing the network's first line of kitchen and cookware products.