FX is branding itself with the slogan, "There Is No Box."
The network will take on that tag line in a series of spots slated to start running Dec. 18 and will phase out the klieg lights in its logo, leaving just the uppercase letters "FX."
The News Corp.-owned general-entertainment basic-cable network has had two tag lines previously, but it hasn't employed them over the past several years, choosing instead to focus its marketing efforts on its critically acclaimed original series individually.
Some 25 spots created by the network and scheduled to begin running during the Dec. 18 episode of Nip/Tuckrepeatedly invoke the phrase, "There is no …" along with various words and phrases that match and overlay emotion-laden clips from FX's eight original series. Many are set to James Morrison's "You Give Me Something" from his new album, Undiscovered.
The aim of the spots -- three 60-second amalgamations of clips from various series, as well as 30-second spots for each individual show -- was to show the communalities held by the series, which are "cliché-busting," FX Networks president and general manager John Landgraf said.
"They focus on the antiheroes, the outlaws, complex, rich, authentically human characters," he added. "We want to elevate nonconformity to an aspirational experience. We're endorsing unrestrained creativity, originality and distribution."
Landgraf would not give a specific dollar amount for the campaign, saying only that the network spent "tens of millions of dollars."
FX executives have been working on the campaign for about one year, in part as a reaction to focus-group testing they conducted showing that many viewers recognized FX's original series but thought they aired on broadcast networks or pay-cable channels.
At a time when competition from Web sites, video games and a slew of other digital-cable networks has made solid brand definition more important than ever, FX joined other basic-cable networks like Court TV and Hallmark Channel in announcing that it will change its own.
"It takes a long time in a very large country with a lot of channels for a channel's identity to penetrate the consciousness of everybody in America," Landgraf said. "If you're not in people's consideration set, it's very hard to get people to even sample a show."
FX purchased a 60-second spot during Feb. 3's Super Bowl XLII on sister network Fox, but otherwise, the spots -- about 25 different ones total -- will run on News Corp.-owned assets, including Fox, Fox's sports-focused cable networks and Fox Interactive Media's sites, including social-networking site MySpace, film-review site Rotten Tomatoes and photo-sharing site Photobucket. A paid print-media campaign is scheduled to follow.
While he acknowledged frustration that the continuing writers’ strike could impact production of new seasons of FX shows, includingDamages and Rescue Me, Landgraf said its lack of resolution wouldn't impact the campaign's rollout. He added that FX plans to use the campaign for at least a decade, and that five of its eight shows are ready to run in the next 6-8 months -- the network banked complete seasons of Nip/Tuck,The Shieldand 30 Days and half-seasons (seven episodes each) of Dirt and The Riches.
FX used two tag lines previously. When the network launched in June 1994, it bore the tag line, "TV Made Fresh Daily," to tie in with the original daytime programming it produced out of New York. In August 1997, it swapped to the tag line, "Fox Gone Cable," to promote Fox shows it reran, including The X-Files.
Now, with ratings that have nearly doubled over the past five years due to acquired movies, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing and its original shows, FX was looking for an overall brand that reflected the spirit of the network, Landgraf said.
At a press conference held in New York Tuesday morning to announce the branding, two stars of FX original series -- The Shield's Michael Chiklis and Rescue Me's newly raven-dyed Denis Leary -- made appearances to support the network that runs their shows. Glenn Close -- whose Damages recently earned a second-season pickup from FX -- was slated to attend but was not feeling well, according to an FX representative.
Landgraf, in announcing the changes, thanked every executive producer of the network's eight shows, saying that he recognized their importance to FX at a time when the strike has brought perhaps more attention than ever to Hollywood's creative minds.
"This network was founded upon a dedication to helping creative people reach their goals and a faith that if we do, good things will happen to the network," he added.