The first of 17 TV spots began running on TNT and other Turner Broadcasting System networks last week. But the campaign revs up this week in advance of TNT's first regular season telecast Sept. 1.
The TV campaign includes a mix of image and tune-in spots linked by splashy, Hollywood-like production values and the narration of veteran actor Brad Sullivan, whose soliloquies aim to turn ordinary player bios into rousing and inspiring epics.
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Other aspects of the campaign, created in-house, include an outdoor and transit campaign, radio spots in the top 25 markets, and national and local print ads.
The commercials are a departure from last year's campaign, which focused on football's hard-hitting, physical elements.
"There was a feeling that last year's campaign was enforcing an aspect of the game that's exciting and viable but speaks best to hardcore fans. It's not the best approach if you're trying to reach a broader audience," said Scot Safon, TNT's senior VP-marketing.
For TNT, the new campaign's narrative-driven creative presents the NFL as sports entertainment with compelling characters.
"What we're trying to do is create mini-movies with our NFL promos," he said. "We thought we should promote the NFL to our typical TNT viewer in the same way we normally speak to them about our movie programming."
On-air promotion by NFL telecasters has undergone a revolution since Fox arrived on the scene in 1994 with its much-heralded "Same Game. New Attitude" campaign.
While no telecaster would admit that it feels pressure to meet a Fox-set standard, TNT believes its new campaign reflects a new approach to on-air promotion that not only plugs games but delivers a brand message.
"Fox may have raised the stakes, sure," Mr. Safon said, "but the benefit is that it has inspired smarter marketing at all the networks."