Friday, May 20, 2011

Ventura TV gets creative with ads

Posted at 10:31 PM on Wednesday, May. 18, 2011
By Rick Bentley / The Fresno Bee

Ventura TV Video Appliance Center President Mark Shirin is thinking outside the TV box with his advertising.

Ventura TV will be the only local advertiser on the Me-TV Network when it launches on KGMC (Channel 43.6) on June 1. That adds up to 175 minutes of Ventura TV commercials a day, or almost 64,000 minutes every year.

It's not unusual for advertisers to buy large chunks of commercial time. But having your own TV channel that runs only advertisements for your business is a new way of thinking.

Shirin's one-year deal with Gary Cocola -- owner of 33 local TV stations -- will give him five minutes of local commercial time each hour on the 24-hour channel that shows nostalgia programming such as "I Love Lucy," "Get Smart," "M*A*S*H" and "Gunsmoke."

"I have been intrigued with the idea ever since Gary Cocola mentioned it a year ago," Shirin says.

Along with the five minutes of commercials each hour, half-hour commercial packages will play at 9:30 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. daily, which will eventually originate from the store. Shirin will conduct a search to find a host for the packages. If you're interested, call him at (559) 265-4326.

The only other commercials on the TV station will be the national advertising supplied by Me-TV.

"If someone locally wants to get a commercial on the channel, they'll have to talk to Mark," says Cocola.

Neither Shirin nor Cocola would say how much the plan costs. Part of the expense will be paid by companies and manufacturers featured in the local commercials. And Shirin will keep costs down because he's a member of the Nationwide Marketing Group that will produce all of the commercials.

When the channel launches, you'll only be able to see it by using an antenna. Cocola is optimistic the channel will be added to Comcast's cable lineup by fall.

Shirin isn't abandoning advertising on other local TV stations, but he will reduce his purchases. If the first year of this new advertising approach proves successful, Shirin can continue the deal for at least one more year.

Along with the TV channel, a new Ventura website will launch in mid-June. Shirin wants to use the Internet to drive traffic to the TV station and vice versa. Both will be used to lure consumers to the store.

TV and movie critic Rick Bentley can be reached at or (559) 441-6355. Read his blog at

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