TNT Readies NBA Marketing Campaign

Turner Network Television will tip off a cross-platform marketing campaign for its coverage of the 2004-05 National Basketball Association season early next month.

To boost its 21st year of presenting the professional basketball league, director Spike Lee produced a series of “School of Truth” spots, in which kids aged 8 to 11 put NBA players’ accomplishments in perspective, TNT said.

In one spot, a kid brings his “uncle,” Cleveland Cavaliers star LeBron James, to his school for show and tell, and gets a C-minus when his classmates point out that James failed to get the Cavaliers into the playoffs.

TNT said the commercials will begin running nationally the week of Oct. 4. The drama network’s first game is scheduled for Nov. 2, when the Houston Rockets visit the defending NBA champion Detroit Pistons.

Turner Sports said it’ll run heavy on-air promotion and bugs across TNT, TBS, Cartoon Network, Cable News Network and CNN Headline News, touting opening night. It will also buy spot radio and cable in 15 markets, including schedules on ESPN, Black Entertainment Television, MTV: Music Television, Comedy Central, USA Network, FX and Spike TV.

National print is also part of the promotional lineup with ads slated to tip off the week of Nov. 1 in USA Today, as well as in Stuff and Hoop Magazine. In addition, ads will run in newspapers serving nine markets — Dallas, Atlanta, Detroit, Miami, Denver, Portland, Indianapolis, Philadelphia and Sacramento — during November.

Outdoor is also on tap, with billboards secured in New York (Times Square and Grand Central Station); Los Angeles (Sunset Boulevard); and Atlanta (TNT’s NBA Studio campus and various metro locations).

Working in conjunction with sister company Time Warner Cable and the league, TNT will distribute 90,000 direct-mail pieces (supported with cross-channel spots) promoting the availability of the NBA on TNT in HD.

Pieces will be disseminated in Los Angeles, New York, Charlotte, Houston, Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Orlando, San Antonio, and Indianapolis, among other markets.

The network also said it will hand out “NBA Thursday branded premiums” at Regal Cinemas movie theaters in 15 markets, in addition to an outdoor, direct mail and online campaign.