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Marketing the New College Sports Try

College Sports Television will begin to drive home its introductory marketing theme at the National Show in Chicago this week.

The fledgling channel's exhibit booth will feature a recreational vehicle wrapped with the network's theme copy — "College Sports Are Just Better" — said Brian Bedol, the Classic Sports Network co-founder who is now launching CSTV.

The tagline was developed from observations made during consumer-research interviews, Bedol said.

The media schedule for the consumer-marketing campaign later this summer is still being developed, but it could involve consumer magazines targeting college-sports fans, as well as online and television and radio buys in about a dozen college markets, including Boston, Detroit, Atlanta and Columbus, Ohio, said Bedol.

In midsummer, CSTV will launch its own on-air promotion push, he added.

CSTV's marketing budget will "probably be between $3 million and $5 million," Bedol estimated.

The campaign will depict college athletes in action, as thought bubbles indicate why such players are so passionate about their sports. In one, a lacrosse player — exhausted after playing all-out — thinks: "No endorsements, no salary, no agent. But plenty to play for."

A soccer player who's diving for a sideways kick says, "I give my all because I know I'll never be traded." In a third ad, a baseball player reaching for a fly ball says, "Passion never goes on strike."

Campus road show

Later this year, the RV will hit the road, traveling to key college markets to drive awareness and distribution of CSTV.

The RV will be just one facet of the programmer's on-campus marketing initiatives. Many of its other efforts will involve its first charter sponsor, Coca-Cola Co., as well as "local-market opportunities to drive distribution," Bedol said, though he declined to offer specifics.

Bedol said CSTV will announce a second major sponsor at the National Show, but declined to identify it. Industry sources, however, speculated that Nike Inc. will line up with the channel.