Pushing 'Payne’ for HD Gain

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Turner Network Sales is hitting the ground running to help affiliate partners sell HD and other products, crafting local promotions that also leverage awareness of two of its marquee programs: its Sunday Major League Baseball package and House of Payne.

The channel created the TBS Clubhouse tour, which has already begun and which visits ballparks in major cities including the Comcast markets of Philadelphia, Atlanta, Seattle, Detroit and Boston; Time Warner Cable’s Los Angeles and Cleveland markets; and Charter’s St. Louis system.

TBS ran a baseball-related promotion last September, but the events were quickly crafted to maximize exposure for its Division Series coverage, said Turner Network Sales vice president of network marketing and operations Gary Brockman. The channel quickly rushed out “Postseason Pete,” a giant bobblehead doll (modeled after no specific Major League player) to draw park crowds to a Turner booth.

The version this season, which began July 12 in Philadelphia, has a new name and a “bigger concept,” Brockman said. A direct sales tent, shaped like a baseball, is co-branded with the local cable partner and set up at each venue, allowing the operator to sell HD packages or whatever product or bundle is the local priority. TBS designed the marketing effort with its media agency, Cenergy, of East Aurora, N.Y.

Visitors to the sales site can try their hand against a big-league fastball in front of a pitching simulator or being recorded singing Take Me Out to the Ball Game.

Baseball fans can also have their picture taken with the giant bobblehead, an effort that adds a viral element to the promotion. Fans must go to a designated Web site to download their free photo, which again is branded with the logos of TBS and the local cable partner. That branding gets passed along as friends share the “Pete” picture with friends via the Internet, Brockman noted.

Operators also have an opportunity to sell ads against the local events; Brockman said most are focused on the product-sales effort, though.

The second tour is called the “House of Payne: No Payne. No Gain” tour. Since the show has an African-American cast and fan base, TBS wanted to design a promotion that would reach that audience in a different way, Brockman said, and “provide value they haven’t gotten in the past” from cable promotions.

This marketing effort provides health screenings of conditions that are especially prevalent in this population: diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure.

A van is sent to health fairs, fire stations or other locations specified by the local cable partner. The vehicle is co-branded with the name of the local partner, and two 10-foot-by-10-foot displays fold out to display health information. Brockman said the size of the unit makes it easy to get into just about any display space.

At each event, House of Payne water bottles will be given to the first 100 visitors to the van, which is staffed with experienced medical technicians. Local partners will also set up tables near the vehicle to sell HD packages, awareness of video on demand or programming packages. The partners will give away co-branded prizes.

This tour has already begun, but in future will hit Comcast’s Detroit system; Charter’s St. Louis system; Time Warner Cable’s Los Angeles system, then Comcast operations in Seattle, Cleveland, Atlanta and Boston. The stops are planned each Saturday and Sunday through August.

“These family and community-based events give our brands and our affiliates the unique opportunity to connect face-to-face with our viewers and their constituents,” Brockman said.

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