Venables Hopes ‘Sex’ Sells for HBO

LOS ANGELES Independent Venables Bell & Partners has broken two new spots for the HBO DVD release of Sex and the City that position the show as football or poker for women.

In one spot, a raucous girls-night out at one home is compared to a lonely husband alone in the dark, mourning the absence of his wife. The cross-cutting shows him positioning his remote controls and his wife declining his phone call. As he retires early, the women at the Sex and the City-watching party are whooping it up. The tagline: “It’s like football for women … All 94 episodes on DVD.”

A second 30-second spot parallels men telling their poker buddies lame excuses for being out with the boys with women’s lies about their Sex and the City nights. “It’s like poker night for women” is the tag.

Mary Hernandez (copy) and Lauren Weinblatt (art) worked with creative directors Greg Bell and Paul Venables. Tamsin Prigge produced and Rick LeMoine of Lime Studios directed the spots.

“The football thing is great because it imagines the things that women think we’re doing during football night,” said Greg Bell, founding partner. “This represents a target shift. HBO does well with the sales of their catalog, but on the coasts and in major cities those markets have flattened, they’re pretty saturated. This gets beyond the lower hanging fruit to middle America.”

Bell said the spots place a heavy burden on art direction, which “speaks of places where people can still park and have basements.” The spots are running primarily on cable networks such as E!, Oxygen, TLC, Food and Style channels.

The San Francisco shop had worked with HBO on a project basis for years, starting with Oz, but last year the New York-based client consolidated all the work at VB&P.

The client spent $10 million in 2006, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.