Driving 'Criminal Intent’ Viewers to USA

The challenge:

Communicate to Law & Order: Criminal Intent viewers that, beginning Oct. 4, new, original episodes of the series will now be seen on USA Network, not NBC, its home of six years.

The solution:

USA marketing executives decided the only way to really grab viewers’ attention to the message was to literally show a move.

The campaign also had to fight any perception that the USA episodes are off-network reruns.

“We had to be clear that new, original episodes are on a new network. We had to be as on-the-nose as possible,” said Chris McCumber, senior vice president, marketing and brand strategy.

So the in-house design team crafted ads that actually look like an L&O: CI episode. In one, actor Chris Noth appears to be interrogating a suspect when workers wearing “Speedy Express Movers” burst in and pick up the table in front of him.

Another spot breaks the “fourth wall,” when actor Vincent D’Onofrio asks co-star Kathryn Erbe, “What’s that?” gesturing to the USA logo where the NBC on-screen bug once appeared.

The Criminal Intent spots have been placed in Law & Order franchise reruns on USA and other channels, such as TNT. USA will buy ad time on other networks in 18 key markets beginning Oct. 1, and the spots will continue for the next two months, McCumber said.