'Power’ Push for a Court Tentpole

1/13/2006 7:00 PM Eastern

Court TV didn’t roll out a large-scale marketing campaign in support of the first season of Dominick Dunne’s Power, Privilege and Justice, but the network is pulling out the stops to tout the “tentpole” series as it enters its sixth campaign.

Executives believe the campaign will help build on the momentum of the show, which averaged a 1.2 household rating for its seven premiere runs in 2005. That marked a 20% ratings improvement for Court TV’s Monday 10 p.m. time period, compared with 2004 programming, general manager of programming and marketing Marc Juris said.

While promotional campaigns tend to trumpet new shows, Juris said Court TV wants to reinforce viewership for a “signature series,” which kicks off its new season Jan. 16. The campaign is marked with humor and several “guerrilla” elements designed to bring attention to the on-going series illuminating crimes among high society.

“If [our] advertisement isn’t entertaining, why should viewers believe the show will be?” Juris asked.

Elements include a “scratch-and-win” card giveaway in 10 major cities. The cards, dubbed the “Amazing and True High Society Scratch-and-Win Game,” are an homage to the ubiquitous scratch games presented by New York newspapers, Juris said. They will be handed to some 2 million consumers.

Tune-in utility aside, the cards contain key word information that will help people enter the sweepstakes area of the network’s Web site, where they can “scratch” a virtual card to enter the $10,000 contest.

Another guerrilla strategy: Faux neighborhood crime watch posters have been installed on poles in various New York City environs around Fifth and Madison Avenues, warning passers-by that they are in a “high-society crime neighborhood.” Observers who dial the toll-free “crime watch” number on the poster will hear a recording of Dunne, promoting upcoming episodes of the show.

A more conventional part of the promotion, which Juris calls “low-tech interactive,” are postcards that Court has placed in such magazines as Entertainment Weekly, Vanity Fair and People. They recommend that readers “let a high society criminal know you care” by sending the postcards.

According to Juris, the various campaign elements reflect the media carrying them: print ads are fashionable and cynical, while the cross-channel spots emphasize the series’ story-driven nature.