Betty Cohen

Lifetime

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A few things have changed since Betty Cohen's first stint at Lifetime 20 years ago as promotions copywriter. She told the 250 buyers attending her first upfront presentation as the new president and CEO of Lifetime that back then she was writing promos for shows like "Salute to the Elderly" and that big watercooler hit "Gynecology Update."

Needless to say, the network has come a long way. But the biggest change isn't in the programming lineup but in the psychographic makeup of the women the network targets.

"Women feel empowered to write their own stories," she says. "That's a seismic change from the women who grew up with the women's movement, an era that includes me."

Ms. Cohen was largely responsible for the birth of Turner Network's successful Cartoon Network. She hopes to bring the same thinking to Lifetime, a joint venture by Disney and Hearst.

After taking over for the retired Carole Black, Ms. Cohen launched a psychographic research project. Based on the results, Lifetime adopted a positioning statement beyond its long-held "Television for women" tagline because the vision for the network had to be more than just TV. The fruits of that new positioning included hiring away a new entertainment president, Susanne Daniels, from The WB. Ms. Cohen also hired agency veteran Martha Pease to the new position of exec VP-marketing and enterprise development. While Ms. Cohen hopes to keep Lifetime the top TV destination for women, she knows the game is far greater than just the 27-inch screen.

"You only become as big as you define the proposition," Ms. Cohen says. "You can be the leading cable network, but imagine how powerful that will be five years from now." And that's where her entrepreneurial spirit will fit right in.
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