Crime does pay: Sky One’s mock serial-killing crime scenes push the latest series of US forensics drama

With all the TV channels that keep cropping up these days, it is plausible that the arrival of a new series could go largely unnoticed. An eye-catching promotional campaign is certainly one way to guarantee exposure, especially when that campaign includes a human skeleton appearing in a busy shopping area.

That’s exactly what Sky One has done to push the latest series of US crime drama Bones. In a collaboration between the Sky channel and Fox, using an idea from Altogether Digital, empty shops on London’s Oxford Street, Manchester’s Princ-ess Street and Gordon Street in Glasgow were turned into identical mock-crime scenes – by brand activation company Lunch Communications – featuring a skeleton sitting in an armchair. One of each of the skeletons’ ribs had been replaced with a silver replica – a reference to a recurring character in the forthcoming series, the Silver Skeleton Killer – and on the wall was the URL: Curious shoppers who looked up the website found themselves viewing the same crime scenes from webcams inside the rooms.

For five days after they were unveiled on Thursday October 25, Sky One kept a lid on what the dioramas meant before plastering the scenes with imitation police tape bearing the channel’s and Bones’ logos. Visitors to the website were then re-directed to, the official site of the London Institute of Forensics, a sister institution of the Jeffersonian Institute – the organisation behind the fictional team in the TV series. On this site they could take part in a computer game, involving members of the Bones cast (including David Boreanaz and Emily Deschanel) working in the forensics lab to discover the identities of both the victim and killer.

The Diary is now up to its virtual elbows in virtual clues and body parts.

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