Court TV Heats Up ‘Heists’

Mar 7, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Once buttoned-down Court TV is taking a racier tack as it promotes its new show “Impossible Heists.”

A print and outdoor campaign running in New York, where, not coincidentally, a lot of media buyers and planners live, uses headlines like “It’s not the size of the tool … it’s how you use it,” “Well hung” and “She’d rather be tied up than tied down.”

If the campaign sounds a bit like something cheeky upstart music channel Fuse might have run, it’s no coincidence. Court TV’s new general manger, Marc Juris, and Mary Corigliano, its new senior VP of marketing, recently segued to Court from Fuse.

Mr. Juris said it’s not the kind of ad Fuse would have run, “Because the people are not young enough in this ad,” calling the Court TV push “a very different kind of campaign.”

“It’s sophisticated and adult,” he said. “But then again, I think it is designed to capture what we think is sexy and hot about this show.”

“Impossible Heists,” launching March 15, is a “new kind of reality show,” said Mr. Juris, who dubs it “expert reality.” The show features teams of experts with special skills, such as rappelling or locksmithing, and sees whether they can recreate real-life burglaries.

The opening show recreates the theft of a $10 million painting from an estate in England. The estate had lions patrolling the ground, and the Court TV show has real lions as well.

Each show features a mini-documentary about the original real-life crime. At the end of each show, a forensics team studies the “crime scene” for clues the competing teams left behind. At the end of the show’s five-episode run, the team that does best wins a $100,000 prize.

“It’s pushing the boundary of The Investigation Channel [Court TV’s prime-time persona] in that this is really about experts figuring out how to do the same thing, and then having a group of experts come in and investigate,” Mr. Juris said. “So at the end, it pays off back to The Investigation Channel.”

The show is designed to attract a young audience, in the 18 to 49 demographic range, but “also, we think our existing audience will be entertained by the real-life aspect,” Mr. Juris said.

‘Of Ice and Men’

The show is being programmed as Court TV’s tentpole event for March. In the nine days leading up to the premiere, the network will run specially selected episodes of its show “Masterminds” that feature jewel robberies. The theme will be “Of Ice and Men.”

AOL Netscape has bought the presenting sponsor position for “Heists,” said Charlie Collier, executive VP of ad sales at Court TV. In addition to advertising on the show and in-show graphics, Netscape will be mentioned in on-air and off-air promotions for the show.

The show will also be promoted through a wireless contest that offers a $10,000 prize to viewers who crack a code via text messaging. “It’s a really fun way to get our audience involved,” Ms. Corigliano said.

Court TV will also hold a safecracking event March 14 at New York’s Time Warner Center (Time Warner is part owner of Court TV). The person who decodes the safe will win $25,000. Other prizes being offered include iPods, movie tickets and Court TV premiums.

Court TV will run spots for the show on networks including FX, USA, ESPN, ESPN2, Spike, E!, TNT, NBC and CBS, plus regional spots on Comcast, local cable in the top 15 markets, local broadcast in New York, Los Angeles and Detroit, and “The Today Show” in New York.

“Because we were designing this as a New York outdoor media campaign, we wanted to be bold, imaginative, entertaining be-cause we felt that if the ads weren’t entertaining, you would not reach the conclusion that the show was entertaining,” Mr. Juris said. “And we thought there was an opportunity with this particular show to be what we like to call respectfully irreverent and have a little fun, be sophisticated, have a little bit of a wink, but to say this is a new kind of show on Court TV.”

He said that New York is a very “noisy” media city. “We wanted people to stop, look, take notice.”

The print ads will run in Entertainment Weekly, Time Out in New York and Chicago, The New York Times and the New York Post.