SBJ/Feb. 17-23, 2014/Marketing and Sponsorship

SportsNet LA using Dodgers stars, history in campaign

Less than two weeks before one of the most anticipated network launch dates, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ network, SportsNet LA, is rolling out its biggest marketing push yet around the channel.

The campaign breaks in full this week and includes TV, radio, digital, billboards and print. The campaign soft launched last month with some billboards in the Los Angeles area. It uses Dodgers stars Clayton Kershaw and Yasiel Puig to create awareness around the channel, which launches Feb. 25. The campaign is slated to run through mid-March.

“It’s an informational campaign,” said Lon Rosen, Dodgers executive vice president and chief marketing officer. “We need to make sure our fan base knows where to find the channel. We need to inform the fan base as much as possible.”

The marketing campaign is similar to the one the Lakers used two years ago when they launched TWC SportsNet with Time Warner Cable. TWC spent millions of dollars on that effort, and this one is believed to cost as much.

The campaign focuses on current Dodgers stars, though it also will highlight big moments from the team’s history, such as Kirk Gibson’s game-winning home run in the 1988 World Series and Fernando Valenzuela’s 1990 no-hitter.

One of the Dodgers’ biggest stars, longtime broadcaster Vin Scully, provides voiceovers on the TV and radio spots. For one TV spot, which shows Kershaw getting ready to pitch, Scully says, “Once in a generation, you see a player who truly transcends greatness and commands the trust of a team. The comparisons will come and go. But the moments will define the legend.”

The screen then shows, “Great moments live forever,” followed by “Great moments live here.”

Each of the marketing messages sends fans to a website, INeedMyDodgers.com.

The channel is fully owned by the Dodgers through American Media Productions, which tabbed Time Warner Cable to handle programming and distribution for the channel. The campaign could put pressure on distributors like DirecTV that so far have refused to carry the channel. Negotiations are not expected to heat up until late March, as Opening Day approaches.

“We know it takes time to build these things,” Rosen said. “Time Warner Cable takes the lead on these negotiations. We’re confident they will get this done and distribution will be in place.”
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