When Comcast SportsNet decided to run its first outdoor
billboards this fall, the company tried to set itself apart from other local Philadelphia
Instead of the usual television personalities beaming down
on passersby, SportsNet decided to use something that would really catch the attention of
its target audience: jock itch.
"We wanted to set ourselves up as a guy hangout,"
said Stephanie Smith, vice president of marketing.
The prominently placed red-and-white billboards used funny
one-liners to catch the attention of the network's predominantly male sports fans. One
read: "How to cure that persistent jock itch"; the other, "Happy marriage?
We can fix that."
Smith said the network has had plenty of positive feedback
on the billboards, from both males and females.
"We're not in the market to break up marriages,"
The billboards were designed by Narberth, Pa.-based
advertising agency RedTettemer, which also created the channel's fall ad campaign that was
designed to drive viewership during the November sweeps period. Account planning director
Joyce Rivas said the goal of the campaign was to convince casual sports fans to watch Sports
Rise and Sports Nite, which recap the highlights of games viewers may have
Radio, on-air and print ads featured fictional
"universal laws" that explain why fans miss the games they most want to see.
"Universal law of the sports fan number 18," for
example, stated: "Objects in motion tend to stay in motion, except traffic on your
way home to see the game."
Other "universal laws" involve the wife's opera
tickets, phone calls from Mom and a daughter's can't-miss dance recital.
"We had to appeal not only to the married guy but the
single guy, too," Smith said. Each of the ads featured the tag line, "Miss the
game? Catch the highlights."
This year's SportsNet campaign differs in focus from last
year's, when the network had just launched and was still trying to brand itself, said
Smith. "Now, we have to let consumers know what's on the brand."
Smith said SportsNet plans to bring back the
"universal law of the sports fan" campaign next February, along with a contest
in which viewers can send in their own universal laws for future ads.
"Our mission is not only to educate the viewers, but
to entertain them," Smith said.
Like other local sports channels, Comcast SportsNet faces
the challenge of keeping basketball fans interested until the National Basketball
Association lockout ends and the new season begins. Smith said SportsNet is airing Sixers
Rewind, featuring the best Philadelphia 76ers basketball games of last season.
To help drive viewership, SportsNet is running ads with the
tag line, "Just because there's no Sixers game on tonight doesn't mean there's no
Sixers game on tonight."