TNT Aligns Stars for NBA Push | Adweek TNT Aligns Stars for NBA Push | Adweek
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TNT Aligns Stars for NBA Push

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TNT is gilding its NBA playoff promotional campaign with a few megawatts of star power, enlisting multihyphenates Justin Timberlake and Jamie Foxx to anchor the upcoming “Win or Go Home” initiative.

Tipping off Friday, April 2, a long-form marketing spot featuring Timberlake and Foxx will begin running in some 1,200 Regal Cinemas theaters nationwide. Timing out at two minutes and 30 seconds, TNT’s NBA push will appear during the trailer reel in nearly 16,000 Regal Cinemas screens.

The theater spot opens on the two celebrities jawing about the contenders most likely to hoist the Larry O’Brien NBA Championship Trophy in June. Clips of the likes of Kobe Bryant and LeBron James lead into a montage of perennial threats from the Eastern and Western Conferences: Kevin Garnett, Steve Nash, Carmelo Anthony, Dwight Howard and Vince Carter. During the rundown of the teams most likely to secure a playoff bid, Foxx gets off the best joke, observing that while he loves Phoenix, “there are too many vegetarians” on the team.

A debate about the merits of defense versus point production leads the two spokesmen to ditch a red carpet event for an impromptu one-on-one. After each amateur puts up the rock or pivots toward the hoop, the spot cuts to a mirror image of an NBA player making the same move.

The Regal spot ends with the NBA Playoffs and TNT logos and the tag “Win or Go Home.”

In addition to the theatrical campaign, a series of spot buys will target major NBA markets Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Los Angeles and Orlando, Fla. Turner will also place NBA Playoffs teasers on its family of nationally distributed cable networks, including TNT, TBS, CNN and truTV.

“We’re going to start off strong in the run-up to the first round and really push hard to let everyone know that we’re the destination for the NBA Playoffs,” said Christina Miller, svp of Turner Sports strategy/marketing/promotions. “It’s all about sustaining momentum and reaching fans across multiple platforms.”

To that end, social media will play a significant role over the course of TNT’s two-month hoops push. The NBA on TNT Facebook page offers interactive elements (polls, contests), plus a co-branded “Win or Go Home” Playoff picks game that allows fans to challenge friends to predict the outcomes of various stat categories.

Other digital marketing efforts include daily updated videos on the NBA YouTube channel, a take-over on Yahoo Sports’ home page on Wednesday, May 19 and ads posted on relevant sites like NBA.com, SI.com and Yahoo Sports.

Rounding out the campaign are a backpage spread in the April Playboy and buys in USA Today and the NBA’s Hoop magazine.

Along with ESPN, TNT will carry the first two best-of-seven rounds of the playoffs, which begin Saturday, April 17. The Turner net will also televise the Western Conference Finals in May, while ESPN will present the Eastern Conference Finals. ABC will once again close out the 2009-10 pro hoops campaign, broadcasting its eighth consecutive NBA Finals in June.

As the postseason progresses from the opening round to the conference semis, TNT will ramp up its local offensive, securing on-air endorsements from sports talk radio DJs in select Western Conference markets (Dallas, Los Angeles, Phoenix and San Antonio [Texas]).

“Once we can identify which teams will advance, the unfolding narrative will inform where we focus our messaging,” Miller said. “We’ll have people rewriting and re-feeding copy as events unfold.” While Miller didn’t offer any predictions as to how the West would shake out, she suggested that TNT’s media commitments are likely to extend through late May in Kobe-ville.    

“Based on past performance, you can expect us to go a little longer in places like L.A,” she said.

 Last year, TNT enjoyed its strongest NBA postseason, as the net’s slate of 43 playoff games averaged 4.71 million viewers, up 24 percent over its year-ago average.