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Oxygen Grows Up, Adds Irony

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Mindful that Oxygen Media is no longer in its infancy, Mullen creative director and copywriter Tim Roper eschewed the maternity-ward im agery of the client's launch campaign in favor of a more adult milieu.

The new Oxygen work, which began appearing last week, takes a more mature and ironic approach, in cor porating mock beauty-pageant foot age and introducing the tagline, "Oxygen: Fresh media for women." The effort attempts to appeal to the intelligence of potential viewers. Spending will likely be in the low to mid-seven figures.

"Pageants tend to portray a one-dimensional view of women," said Roper. "Over the years they've progressed, but that one-dimension ality is the antithesis of what Oxygen wants to communicate."

With their reinforcement of gender stereotypes, pageants provide the perfect forum for ironic commentary, Roper said. The spots are meant to underscore Oxygen's commitment to programming (talk shows, films, sports) for a broad range of women, Roper said.

The latest salvo from the Wenham, Mass., agency opens with a smiling, faux-1940s-era contestant at a beauty pageant. A male emcee asks her what she would do to make the world a better place. Her hesitant response is cut short by clips from subsequent pageants in which wo men from different generations explain how they would like to see women portrayed in the media. Both 60- and 30-second versions of the spot will be broadcast.

Oxygen launched in January 2000 in 6-7 million homes and is now seen in about 30 million homes. Lifetime leads the women's market with an audience of 85 million homes, ac cording to data from Kagan World Media.

Using the positioning line "It's in you," Mullen helped launch Oxygen with a spot on the Super Bowl two years ago. That commercial, set in a maternity ward, featured dozens of newborn girls who rebel against having to wear small pink caps. The pop anthem "I Am Woman" provided the soundtrack.