Tom Cruise Pic May Give Time Warner’s Turner a Calling Card in Coming TV Upfront

Time Warner’s Turner Broadcasting hopes it can prove its value to advertisers by giving publicity to a squadron of unbeatable aliens hell-bent on taking over the Earth.

Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt will appear in promotions for their Doug Liman-directed sci-fi movie, “Edge of Tomorrow,” that will run across the TV unit’s many properties: CNN, TNT, TBS, Adult Swim, TruTV and FunnyorDie, as well asd in select Turner Sports broadcasts. Indeed, the ad campaign – exclusive to Turner – marks the first time the Time Warner operation has devoted this kind of “capacity” of media inventory to a movie studio campaign, said Donna Speciale, president of ad sales for Turner Broadcasting, in an interview.

In doing so, however, Cruise and Blunt will help Turner – and perhaps other media conglomerates– put forth the notion that buying bigger packages of ads across a TV company’s holdings is a viable option in an increasingly fragmented TV-viewing landscape. Already, NBCUniversal has been running ads in the New York Times to burnish the notion that a broad campaign coordinated across multiple networks is often better than the traditional methods of just spraying ads in the usual fashion. FX Networks, the cable unit of 21st Century Fox, recently said it would give MillerCoors a first crack at chances to weave its beverages into new episodes of programs running on FX, FXX and FXM. The deal is similar to one between Turner and the brewer entering its second year.

The Turner twist? The company realizes the approach won’t work for everyone. “It’s not one size fits all,” said Speciale. “Every buy across the portfolio really needs to be married to all the right environments and also the right audiences. It’s really related to the audiences each client is looking for, and then our goal is to find those audiences across” Turner’s various media holdings.

Turner is likely to use the “Tomorrow” package, created for sister Time Warner unit Warner Bros., as a point during its May 14 presentation for the upfront, the annual session when TV networks try to sell the bulk of their ad time for the coming season, according to Speciale.

Media outlets have reason to pitch such packages, as well as a promise to tailor the purchase to client needs. As technology gives TV viewers the option to watch their favorite programs in a dizzying array of new fashions, the traditional audience base for many networks has begun to fragment. Cobbling together a bigger buy that involves many networks can help keep ad money from flying out the door to digital rivals and also create a stronger relationship with a specific advertiser.

The “Edge of Tomorrow” pitch will turn up the star appeal, all in an effort to spur fan activity over an entire week and generate attention for the film’s June 6 opening. Starting today, Turner will launch a “digital hub,” called LiveDieRetweet.com, that will feature new content related to the movie each day. The more fans tweet with the site’s name in a hashtag, the quicker the hub will unlock new pieces of exclusive material, such as a 3D game, back stories and artwork. The more unique tweets that are shared each day, the quicker the content is unveiled.

The movie centers on an Army officer, played by Cruise, who is killed trying to thwart an alien attack on the Earth, then thrust into a time loop that allows him to fight the creatures again and again. He is given an opportunity to learn from his mistakes and devise a plan to defeat his opponents.

Viewers of Adult Swim, TBS, TNT and TruTV will also be asked to post the hashtag in promos that run on the networks’ air. The spots will talk about the site as well as a sweepstakes related to the movie.

On May 12 the site will run a longform Imax trailer for the movie, with an introduction by Cruise and Blunt. Once the video debuts, Cruise, Blunt and Liman will take part in a Twitter chat and respond to questions about the film.

The trailer will later that day run exclusively across CNN, TBS, TNT and TruTV. On the West Coast, the video will run in the first ad break of shows running at 9 p.m.: “The Cleveland Show” on Adult Swim; “Family Guy” on TBS; the “Sprint Halftime Report” in the NBA Playoffs on TNT; and “Hardcore Pawn” on TruTV. The same is true for Turner’s East Coast feeds, except for placement on CNN and Turner Sports programming, which will feature the trailer after midnight. The trailer will also “take over” the home pages of several Turner-affiliated websites, including Funny or Die and the teamcoco.com site that is part of Conan O’Brien’s talkshow.

Turner’s “broad range of networks and extensive digital reach will give the film the exposure it deserves,” said Sue Kroll, Warner’s president of worldwide marketing and international distribution, in a statement.

The complexity inherent in such deals – lots of media properties, lots of fine tuning – requires advertisers and media outlets to put them together months in advance. Turner, Warner Bros. and the movie studio’s ad buyer, Omnicom Media Group, began discussing the prospect of collaboration back in September, according to Turner, with activity ramping up as cuts from the film became available in January.

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