TBS Accelerates MLB Postseason Pitch

With Major League Baseball’s postseason set to begin Wednesday, TBS is speeding up its promotional swing.

Home to MLB’s four division series and the National Championship Series for the first time under a new seven-year deal through 2013, TBS has been pitching awareness for its new property since the beginning of April, according to Turner Sports senior vice president of marketing and programming Jenny Storms. Now with the playoff drawing nigh, TBS wants to build tune-in for the ballgames through a combination of messaging on TV, radio, outdoor, online and other media.

Back in the spring, TBS began running the simple promo that has been the hallmark of its multimedia campaign: “The New Home of MLB Postseason: TBS.”

The spot received a particularly big push during sister service TNT’s extensive coverage of the NBA playoffs. “We believe MLB’s postseason will attract the same kind of viewers as the NBA playoffs: the casual, competitive sports fans whose interest extends beyond [his or her] team’s regular season,” Storms said.

Promos continued on other Turner networks and TBS’s coverage of MLB’s Atlanta Braves, as well as on Saturday afternoon games on Fox, the sport’s other post-season carrier. Additionally, MLB and its postseason teammates have striven to build awareness via the “There’s Only One October” campaign, featuring actor/comedian Dane Cook, that has aired on the two networks, CNN, ESPN, FX and TNT, as well as in Sports Illustrated and USA Today and on XM Satellite Radio and ESPN Radio.  

During late August, TBS began to heat things up further in 6500 movie theaters around the country through a schedule with National Cinemedia. On screen, the network has been trying to connect by running a 150-second highlights segment to the accompaniment of Bon Jovi’s I Love This Town. The campaign is scheduled to continue throughout the playoffs.

“There is great awareness for a great song and the lyrics are very relatable to baseball and its communities,” said Storms.

Meanwhile, outdoor campaigns in select markets incorporate billboards, commuter transit systems and bus sides. Storms said Turner picked markets -- Chicago, New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Cleveland, San Diego and Seattle, among others -- where the local club had a good chance to make the postseason or were strong baseball-viewing DMAs.

TBS is also targeting the Hispanic community and its affinity for the game with outdoor ads featuring the Boston Red Sox’s David “Big Pappy” Ortiz and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim’s Vladimir Guerrero.

Another key outdoor component stands 10-feet tall and sports a very large head. Starting on Sept. 24, TBS sent a pair of huge bobbleheads, “Postseason Petes,” to bat in four markets: Cleveland, St. Louis, Seattle and metro New York. These giants wave and take pictures with fans outside of MLB stadia, at other sporting events, malls and tourist locations. Users can download a memory of their bobblehead encounter by entering a pass code they received during the photo shoot at the network’s Internet portal, TBS Hot Corner, located at MLB.com.

On the print side, ads that have been trumpeting TBS postseason position, in publications like Sports Illustrated, Sporting News and Stuff, will give way to tune-in messages, announcing that day’s matchups, in USA Today and other newspapers.

Similarly, TBS, which has been using nationally syndicated radio shows hosted by Jim Rome, Bill O’Reilly and Bob Costas, among others, to drive awareness, will focus more on commuter time slots to tout telecast tune-in. “We have a nice mix of talk, news and sports,” she said.

On the TV side, TBS is relying on cross-channel avails in 25 markets to get the post-season message out.

“There will be hundreds of spots, which are taggable, on the local level,” said Storms, noting there is also local ad sales initiative at-bat with the postseason.

Storms would not disclose TBS’s expenditures behind its MLB postseason promotional push.

“We are using [parent] Time Warner’s internal assets and other financial resources,” she said. “This is a unique opportunity for us and we really want to make sure that this becomes a crown jewel for TBS.”