SCI-FI PROMOS SEARCH BEYOND GEEKS FOR FANS: EFFECTS-PACKED SPOTS BOOST NET'S COOLNESS FACTOR

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We are not your geeky brother's science-fiction channel.

That's the message of new in-house-created promos the Sci-Fi Channel will run later this month, designed to make the cable channel look cool and branch out beyond its core fans.

The "I am Sci-Fi" campaign features celebrities the network believes are not traditional science-fiction fans. Among those in the eight special-effects-driven scenes are actress Traci Lords, World Wrestling Federation vixen Sable, rapper Busta Rhymes, tennis playing sisters Serena and Venus Williams, and Virgin Atlantic founder Richard Branson.

Josh Greenberg, VP-marketing and creative at Sci-Fi, said the network plans to run the spots through yearend, and if they prove successful more might be produced.

THE SCIENCE-FICTION ATTITUDE

"We really wanted to show people there's a whole other group that embodies the science-fiction attitude," Mr. Greenberg said. "It's not William Shatner; it's Traci Lords."

He said the Sci-Fi Channel has been perceived as a "retro channel" and his aim is "to turn that around so it's more of a futuristic channel."

Tim Brooks, senior VP-research at parent USA Networks, said the perception of Sci-Fi when it started in 1992 was that it would be for a core group of young guys who are into science fiction -- "the socially dysfunctional, pointy-head, can't-get-a-date type," he said.

Yet the network is attracting a wider audience than people might think -- 55% male/45% female.

Mr. Greenberg said the Sci-Fi Channel's Web site would be checked to gauge reaction to the image campaign.

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