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Lifetime Diginet Bows with Docu-Style Look

When Lifetime Television's latest spin-off, Lifetime Real Women, launches on Aug. 2, it will be backed by on-air spots featuring women's tales as told to documentary producers Optic Nerve, which created the interstitials.

Optic Nerve has already collected 40 such stories from women around the country, including a magician, doctor, apple farmer, Special Olympics athlete and auto mechanic.

There are so many stories included in the branding campaign "because there are so many women," executive vice president of the Lifetime brand Rick Haskins said. "We want to be inclusive, not exclusive."

He added that all of Lifetime's networks appeal to a broad base of female viewers because of their focus on contemporary women's lives.

Finding the real women to appear in the on-air spots was "a huge collaborative effort," Haskins said. Because of its work in documentary films, Optic Nerve was able to recommend some of the women. In addition, Lifetime sent electronic-mail messages searching for volunteers among its online database, including names collected during its breast-cancer awareness campaigns.

While producing the first round of interstitials, Optic Nerve asked each woman a series of 20 questions, including "What is a hero?" and "What is your favorite holiday?" Haskins said the answers could be mined for a second round of promotional spots.

Haskins said he was not concerned that Lifetime Real Women, which as of press time had not yet announced its first carriage agreement with a satellite or cable provider, would get lost amid the other women's networks, such as Oxygen or WE: Women's Entertainment.

"There's a specialness to the Lifetime brand that other women's networks don't have," Haskins contended. "We bring a connection, a feeling of trust."

Haskins said the programmer would transfer the attributes associated with Lifetime to the new network.

"There's always a delicate balance when you do a brand extension," Haskins admitted. "You want it to have the feel of the parent so you know it comes from Lifetime, but you also want it to stand alone, like a parent wants a child to stand alone."

In addition to airing on Lifetime Real Women, the interstitial campaign will also air during Lifetime's Saturday night block of "Lifetime Real Women" programming, which will feature the same look and feel as the new network, according to Haskins.

The multimillion-dollar marketing campaign to support the Lifetime Real Women launch will also include print and Internet components. At Lifetimetv.com, viewers will be able to log on for more detailed stories about the real women featured in the commercials.

"This has been one of my most rewarding projects," Haskins said. "Optic Nerve has done such a fantastic job."