The Very Dangerous World of The Lifetime Movie Network

Targeted advertising isn’t new. We’re used to beer commercials during sporting events, pharma during the 6:30 news hour, and online brokerage ads on financial sites. What’s new to me is noticing themes of advertising threaded across different brands on one network.

Watching daytime TV for a change, I discovered that the scariest place on TV isn’t True Blood‘s Louisiana, Wisteria Lane or even (trendy Game of Thrones reference coming) Night’s Watch and The Wall. The most terrifying place on my remote control is The Lifetime Movie Network on a Thursday late morning.

I was innocently watching an Ashton Kutcher-Michelle Pfieffer vehicle, “Personal Effects” (two sad, pretty people connecting awkwardly over loss), when during the many commercial breaks, I noticed the advertising all tapped fear to promote solutions:

  • ADT alarm systems advertised home protection focusing on their success protecting your personal belongings (“This is the computer that didn’t get stolen”).
  • MetLife advertised life insurance reminding us that as we age, the cost will only go up (“Your rates will never be lower”). The Peanuts characters of course did cheer the premise up.
  • BeenVerified.com was a new one to me; the service encourages you to run background checks on people you date for the first time. It’s the great democratization of data, delivered to your desktop before your next blind date at The Olive Garden.
  • Pampers Cruisers was almost a break in the fear, although obviously it promotes protection in a different way. Ick.

Most Lifetime films are already scary, sexy and sad. Both the movies and commercials follow a similar gut-wrenching plot of impossible circumstances only to end on a note of shiny optimism. You’re left feeling that there always is a way out. You’ll get back on your feet. You’ll get him back for what he did. Your home and family are safe. You’ll never date another creep. This is a great deal. That stain will be gone. Free shipping. It’s all very American.

The idea of patriotism cheered me up. Then, just when I was feeling out of harm’s way, came a promo for another Lifetime movie: “Broken Trust.”

Mat Zucker is Chief Creative Officer of OgilvyOne Worldwide, New York. He is a recognized leader in digital and direct marketing and creative management, working across industries including auto, cons ...read more

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