Ops Jump for TNT's NBA All-Star Hoopla


Turner Network Television is bringing affiliates into all the marketing hoopla surrounding the National Basketball Association's All-Star Weekend next month.

Through national and customized programs from Turner Network Sales, TNT's affiliates are tying into the pro-hoops league's Feb. 9 All-Star Game — the first to occur in primetime, and cable and TNT's initial crack at covering the contest — as well as various events from Feb. 7 to 9 in Turner's Atlanta backyard.

The "NBA Season Pass Promotion" and the "NBA on TNT Local All-Star Promotion" include marketing and local ad-sales elements, TNS senior vice president of marketing Coleman Breland said.

Affiliates participating in "Season Pass" in 25 markets will get two tickets to the game and hospitality events in exchange for running 350 tune-in promos, starting Jan. 17. There's also a package of electronics prizes, including a Philips Consumer Electronics color TV set, Microsoft Corp.'s Xbox and video games from EA Sports.

"Local All-Star" is a sales-incentive promotion involving systems across eight markets: four Charter Communications Inc. territories, three Comcast Corp. systems and a Time Warner Cable market. Turner suggested that operators use the various tickets and prize packs either to drive their acquisition and upgrade efforts or as an incentive for salespeople or customer-service representatives.

TNS also put together two separate packages for affiliates in markets with more than 90,000 subscribers and those below that mark. Participants must run 200 All-Star tune-in spots.

Customized courting

In addition, Breland said the network worked with three MSOs on customized promotions.

The "TNT NBA All-Star Experience" sweepstakes and ad-sales promotion was put together exclusively for Time Warner Cable systems in 15 markets, Breland said. One winner in each locality will get a trip to Atlanta for the weekend, while one grand-prize winner receives a 2003 Jeep Liberty.

The MSO will also give four tickets to local accounts in eight markets, including New York, Houston and Orlando, Fla.

Cox's CableRep Advertising unit created "Top Dollars for Top Programs" to increase the perceived value of such high-profile cable events as the NBA All-Star Game. It supplied promo materials and "NBA on TNT' gift bags across the MSO, as incentives for its sales force.

As part of an NBA All-Star-exclusive incentive package, Comcast Corp.'s Atlanta system will host a booth at the "NBA All-Star Jam Session." The MSO will give subscribers who bring a copy of their bill a $3 discount on tickets to that four-day theme-park-like event, at Georgia's World Congress Center.

Network efforts

On the network side, TNT launched what it dubbed a "full-court press" in marketing support for its 12 hours of game and weekend coverage.

Starting with the All-Star Celebrity Game
on Feb. 7, the weekend will include the Got Milk? Rookie Challenge, the Gatorade-sponsored All-Star Preview
special and the America Online Inc.-sponsored NBA All-Star Saturday Night

TNT's marketing blitz includes on-air cross-channel spots, ads in various newspapers' TV supplements and eight major magazines. Additionally, it involves radio spots in 12 markets, a three-minute featurette in Regal Cinema movie theaters, outdoor billboards, and direct-mail and online components.