TruTV gets into Super Bowl ad mix

TBS cable net commercial to air late in second quarter

Turner Broadcasting System has snapped up one of CBS' final remaining Super Bowl spots, buying a 30-second slice of time on the network's Feb. 7 broadcast.

The cable programmer is positioning the buy as a showcase for truTV, the network formerly known as Court TV. The truTV spot will air late in the second quarter of the game, immediately before the two-minute warning.

Although Turner declined to confirm what it has paid for the high-profile positioning, the average cost of a 30-second avail in Super Bowl XLIV is $2.5 million-$2.8 million.

The network's Super Bowl promo will highlight the new series "NFL Full Contact," which bows the night after the big game at 10 p.m. EST. Produced by NFL Films, the one-hour series gives viewers a seat on the 50-yard line as the league preps for some of the season's marquee events.

Shot during the course of the 2009-10 season, each of the six episodes of "NFL Full Contact" is structured around a significant date on the league's calendar (Draft Day; the opening of Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas; the Super Bowl, etc.).

The 30-second spot was created by WPP Group's Grey New York, the NFL's agency of record and the creative force behind the E*Trade "Talking Baby" ads that debuted during last year's Super Bowl on NBC. The spot stars flamboyantly coiffed Steelers safety Troy Polamalu; he was featured in the Coke Zero Super Bowl XLIII homage to the original Mean Joe Greene spot from 1980 and can be seen in ads for Head & Shoulders and Nike.

The buy marks the first time a Turner property will be highlighted in a Super Bowl ad, truTV executive vp and general manager Marc Juris said. And while it may strike some observers as an odd move, given the competition between broadcast and top-tier cable nets, Juris said the investment makes sense.

"The Super Bowl is not only a reach vehicle, it's like a deb ball for brands," he noted. "It's the only event where people watch for the commercials as much as they watch the action on the field. And with a program like 'NFL Full Contact,' you can't ask for a better contextual fit."

The truTV Polamalu spot will also rub elbows with a relevant bit of creative, as it is slated to run immediately after an NFL promo.

The Super Bowl buy and the launch of the new series come on the heels of a huge ratings year for truTV, which was purchased by Time Warner in 2006. Per Nielsen, truTV in 2009 enjoyed its best year among its target demos, averaging 524,000 viewers 18-49 in primetime (up 11% compared with the previous year) and 537,000 adults 25-54 (up 5%). The network enjoyed its most-watched year among the core male demos.

Boasting a lineup of such original series as "Black Gold," "Full Throttle Saloon" and "Conspiracy Theory" with Jesse Ventura, truTV is growing its male audience while making a fairly rapid descent in terms of its median age.

Last year, male viewers accounted for 54% of truTV's deliveries, up from 51% in 2008. In about that same span, the net's median age has fallen to 46 in prime, down from 52 in the fourth quarter of 2007 (immediately before the rebranding).