A&E to Get a Little Less Stuffy

May 5, 2003  •  Post A Comment

A&E Network will attempt to revive itself as a lighter arts-and-entertainment network. Since last fall, the 20-year-old cable network has experienced a 10% to 15% decline in ratings and key demographics. To counter that, it will launch a marketing campaign this month with the theme line, “Art of Entertainment.” Famed photographer Annie Leibowitz will shoot its print campaign. A&E will focus the effort in three areas: biographies, documentaries and drama, with help from its agency of record, Omnicom Group’s TBWA/Chiat/Day, New York. Horizon Media, New York, handles the network’s media buying.
“They are getting a wee bit less stuffy,” said Gary Carr, director-national broadcast for media agency Media First International, New York. “They are going to focus more on entertainment. It looks like they are tweaking and getting a little lighter.”
A&E will eschew more serious crime and investigative shows to instead launch a number of series. Documentaries include “The Letters,” a series of written stories voiced by celebrities, and “The Royals,” a behind-the-scenes look at the British royal family.
In addition, the network and the British Broadcasting Corp. have co-produced an original series, “MI5,” about the British intelligence agency. “One could argue that we should have done this sooner,” said Whitney Goit, exec VP, A&E. “We were probably not responsive to the market.”
Fortifying its high-art TV roots, A&E struck a deal with Miramax Films to show 45 mostly art-house movies.