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Rogers' new ambient TV: Rotisserie chicken

It already has the fireplace channel with a loop of burning logs, and a sunset channel. But to really set the mood, Rogers Cable Inc. will soon be offering a bit of poultry in motion.

Forget 24-hour news or sports: starting Feb. 28, it will be all chicken, all the time on channel 208 for Rogers digital subscribers in Ontario. At launch, the Rotisserie Channel will feature non-stop footage of glistening chickens turning on a spit.

It's part of a Swiss Chalet marketing initiative that takes product placement to extremes. The campaign also includes TV and online ads that will tie in with the channel, and a promotion for it on Rogers' default guide channel, which appears when subscribers turn on their sets.

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"This is the first thing of this kind that we've done," Rogers spokesperson Kathy Murphy said on Tuesday, adding that the cost of buying an entire channel for promotional purposes was "expensive."

The channel, which will be on the air until late May, will be close on the dial to other ambient fare, such as the Aquarium Channel and the Sunset Channel. It takes its inspiration from that cable classic, the Fireplace Channel, which Rogers offers every year from November until late February.

The Fireplace Channel began as a seasonal service offered by various networks, but more recently Rogers has operated it for free, using footage that a customer shot years ago of their own fireplace, on a constant loop. (The customer's identity, much like Swiss Chalet's secret sauce, is a closely guarded industry secret.)

"It will look exactly like [the Fireplace channel] except that it will be (two) rows of rotisserie chicken cooking in the oven," said Carlos Moreno, executive vice-president and creative director at BBDO Toronto, the agency responsible for the campaign.

He said both Swiss Chalet's parent company, Cara Operations Ltd., and Rogers were immediately excited about the idea.

"It's creating a new media opportunity," he said.

While the Rotisserie Channel will be mostly brand-free - Mr. Moreno says many viewers already associate rotisserie with Swiss Chalet without prompting - it will occasionally broadcast a link to the restaurant company's website, along with a promotional code for discounts when ordering in restaurants.

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But will viewers tune in? Mr. Moreno says he will: "Of course! Chicken, it's delicious, the beautiful sound of the chicken crackling, it's great."

True Swiss Chalet fans may just find it appealing, even if vegetarians are inclined to cry fowl.

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