FX, in its latest marketing effort to stand apart from
other general-entertainment cable networks, is heavying up on Fox-style attitude even more
than it did with last year's "Fox Gone Cable" campaign.
"Please Watch Responsibly," the new tag line that
officially broke Sept. 1 (although it had been seen on-air and in trade ads prior to
then), will continue throughout the fourth quarter in on-air promos and radio, spot cable
and print ads that combine FX's image with tune-in support for individual series.
That line will be "an ironic invitation, not a
warning," FX president Peter Liguori observed.
FX has become "more of a primetime player,"
coming off its best Nielsen Media Research ratings season to date, due mainly to off-net
series NYPD Blue and The X-Files, Liguori said. Now, FX aims to make its
mark by appealing to what he described as "an audience that seeks unconventional
programming, shows with a bite."
Liguori said FX has evolved considerably in programming and
marketing since its debut four years ago, when its initial theme, "Television Made
Fresh Daily," supported original daytime series. In spring 1997, FX first
"embraced the rebel, edgy spirit of Fox with 'Fox Gone Cable,'" he
Liguori and FX senior vice president of marketing Gavin
Harvey have been working with two brand-strategy firms: New York-based nickandpaul, New
York, and Howell-Kurtz Creative of Los Angeles. The former shop gathered consumer input
via focus groups, from which the latter firm developed the campaign. The resultant message
is that FX intends to be "more risqué, unafraid to step on some toes," Liguori
Trade and consumer print ads for its shows will emphasize
key, image-related words. For example, the highlighted words for Penn &
Teller's Sin City Spectacular are "SIN-sational," "madcap
mischief" and "in-your-face variety hour," while those supporting its Beverly
Hills 90210 marathon will be "unzipped" and "Secrets laid BARE."
FX also bought the rights to the 1960s hit by The Kinks,
"You Really Got Me," which was rerecorded without lyrics for use on its promos.
The network's ratings have also been buoyed by Major
League Baseball coverage and its "Major Movie Sundays" franchise, Liguori said.
"We pumped up our movie inventory" with Fox and
non-Fox titles -- from Terminator II, which scored a 4.2 Nielsen homes rating
earlier this year, to upcoming films such as Boogie Nights and The Full Monty
for 1999 and beyond. FX also will choose its first original movie title for "sometime
next year," he added.
In baseball, FX will offer a Chicago Cubs-St. Louis
Cardinals game Sept. 8 -- featuring the Cubs' Sammy Sosa's and the
Cardinals' Mark McGwire's hot pursuit of Roger Maris' home run record -- as
a "no-strings-attached special-edition" freebie to nonaffiliated cable
operators, Liguori said.