Lifetime PSAs Bolster Girls' Self Images

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Lifetime Television wants its target audience to know that the network respects its viewers. To that end, it plans a public-awareness campaign next month called "Our Lifetime Commitment: Strong Women."

The public-service announcements, which debut May 10, were designed to help build self-esteem in teen-age girls and to support the women who mother and mentor them.

Boys and girls enter kindergarten with equal measures of self-esteem, Lifetime executive vice president of marketing Rick Haskins said. "But by high school, young women's self- esteem levels are about 50 percent of those of boys the same age," he added.

Lifetime will also encourage affiliates to run the four spots on cross-channel avails. The tag line of each spot is, "Be Your Own Hero."

All through May, Lifetime will back the public-awareness campaign with programming, contests and online content addressing self-esteem and mentoring.

In focus groups, Lifetime viewers linked the network with two issues beyond others: self - esteem and breast-cancer awareness. Haskins said 62 percent of women polled linked the topic of breast cancer to Lifetime.

In May, Lifetime will begin a 20-market van tour to talk with women at the grassroots level about breast cancer. During the tour, Lifetime hopes to collect 1 million signatures to take to Washington, D.C., during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October.

Lifetime has long sponsored breast-cancer-awareness initiatives. This year, the network will place the campaign under its "Our Lifetime Commitment" branding umbrella, along with such issues as child care.

The new PSAs are just part of an overall on-air revamp the network began in January-its first in 10 years. Haskins said the network is devoting more than $2 million to the on-air spots.

The network's marketing team decided to use a variety of women in different aspects of their lives to help capture the diversity of its audience.

Lifetime developed a series of 10-second interstitials featuring women writing and pasting photographs in journals to memorialize events ranging from relationships and marriage to babies and careers. Los Angeles-based Imaginary Forces produced the spots.

Tag lines for the longer on-air spots start with the phrase, "In my lifetime," such as "In my lifetime, I will learn to cut my losses," or, "In my lifetime, I will take risks."

Images of strong, competent women would seem to contradict the idea of Lifetime as the "women-in-peril" network. Haskins, however, begs to differ with that perception.

"We're doing research now, and what women tell us about our movies is that they're educational, informative and empowering," Haskins said. "Our viewers are not stupid people. Their time is very valuable to them, and if they felt that the movies weren't adding value to their lives, they wouldn't watch them."

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