SBJ/20090817/This Week's News

Fox goes local (and big) with pregame marketing

The battle of the NFL’s pregame shows is about to be waged on billboards nationwide, as Fox has made a seven-figure commitment to market its “Fox NFL Sunday” in 25 markets.

The billboards go up Sept. 4 and will run for four weeks.

This is the second consecutive year that Fox has marketed its pregame show with an outdoor advertising campaign. This year, the network will be using only digital billboards, which allows Fox to tailor messages for each market. Last year, it used a handful of such boards; most were not digital.

The digital billboards will allow Fox to tailor messages to specific markets and update them throughout the day. Most messages will highlight planned topics for the coming Sunday’s show. A billboard in New York, for example, could speculate as to whether rookie quarterback Mark Sanchez will start for the Jets.

New York is one of four cities getting
billboards set up like goal posts.

Fox executives are hoping this campaign will establish a connection between the on-air studio hosts and local fans. They are hoping that fans will be more likely to tune in by seeing Fox’s studio hosts alongside local stadiums and home team logos.

“Ours guys are connected to the community and team in each market,” said Eric Markgraf, executive vice president of marketing for Fox Sports. “The best part of our shows are the personalities.”

The billboards will rotate messages and images during the week, pairing Terry Bradshaw and Curt Menefee; Howie Long and Jimmy Johnson; and Michael Strahan and Frank Caliendo.

In four cities (New York, Philadelphia, Los Angeles and Dallas), the billboards will be set up like goal posts, complete with two 10-foot yellow poles extending off the top of the billboard, with orange wind flags.

Last season, Fox’s pregame show pulled a 3.3 rating, 22 percent higher than the show’s biggest competitor, CBS’s “NFL Today,” which had a 2.7 rating.

The creative was produced in-house. Fox used media-buying agency New and Improved Media to handle the billboard purchases.

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