truTV: #truTVisAThing Brand Engagement Campaign

Campaign Summary

Every March since 2011, sports fans have searched for March Madness game schedules on different networks. Each time, truTV received tweets expressing confusion about where to find the network. Examples of tweets to @truTV included:

  • “And now, the annual tradition of finding truTV” #MarchMadness — @DougESPN
  • Another year, another search to find truTV. It’s like the witness protection of TV networks” — @W_R_R

Although these viewers weren’t truTV fans, they provided an opportunity for the network to join a conversation about its service that was already in progress and potentially own it. Building on the success of the previous year’s campaign, #HaveUFoundtruTV, it set out to properly introduce itself to its new “friends.”


Objective and Context:

truTV aimed to help viewers find its channel, but its overall engagement objective was to respond to and curate the conversation in a way that let prospective viewers know that it was in on the joke. A "war room" was designed and assembled to anticipate every possible scenario with an arsenal of assets, including videos, tweets, and memes.

Target Audience:

In November 2014, truTV began targeting adults ages 18 to 48 with a rebrand that positioned it as a "way more fun" network. Since then, the first round of coverage of the NCAA Tournament has brought millions of potential viewers to truTV each year. The network's challenge was to convince non-viewers and light viewers to sample its offerings after the games had ended.

Creative Strategy:

In 2016, truTV repositioned itself as having “more comedy than anyone else.” With the new campaign, it wanted to say to viewers, “Hey. We’re here. You should already know it. In fact, we’re already A THING.” This attitude drove the campaign’s four messaging pillars.

  1. Focus on Overall Brand Voice

    truTV approached the conversation in a purposefully self-deprecating way and talked back to viewers like humans, not a corporate brand. It strove to be seen as clever, but not so much that it would appear self-congratulatory. It wanted to be viewed as a relatable brand that was in on the joke.
  2. Creative Integration

    truTV aimed to bring its TV shows organically into social media conversations while focusing all conversations on the imperative: “What and where is truTV?” truTV’s comedians’ humor was used to spread the brand conversation.
  3. Build Direct Engagement at Scale

    truTV created a “social war room” with the goal of increasing brand awareness with tens of thousands of real-time conversations.
  4. Leverage Learnings from Previous Campaigns

    truTV focused and sharpened its paid media support by applying behavioral insights to make its paid campaign work harder.

Overall Campaign Execution:

truTV transformed March Madness into a an opportunity to join the conversation already in progress about its brand. Starting on "Selection Sunday," it began showcasing its personality on social channels. It took control of the conversation with an assertive social response effort that featured a Promoted Trend (#HaveUFoundtruTV), a channel-finder website, 150 creative pieces, and thousands of individual replies and retweets.

Mobile Execution:

In the "social war room," 30 marketers utilized more than 800 pieces of creative to craft customized responses. Over seven days, the team responded to 28,200 unique Twitter accounts, surpassing previous benchmarks for real-time engagement. All of the activity was designed for mobile because truTV knew that 96 percent of its users were engaged via mobile devices.

The 2015 campaign was based in social conversations, but it didn't extend to all of truTV's platforms. This was one of the biggest learnings from that campaign. The 2016 campaign was briefed, created, and executed through all platforms to create a consistent brand voice. truTV's comedians also appeared in studio segments and in on-air and digital promos that reinforced the campaign. By adapting its approach to multi-platform opportunities, truTV was able to drive mobile conversations.

Results (including context, evaluation, and market impact)

The brand successfully transformed Twitter confusion into a brand awareness conversation. The campaign generated a 94 percent favorable sentiment rating on Twitter throughout the seven-day activation. The visibility of these favorable responses reinforced and amplified the self-deprecatory tone of the campaign. Among the tweets were “truTV is winning Twitter. #truTVisAThing,” “I know where truTV is (points to heart),” and “Loving how the social media manager @truTV is throwing shade at haters #truTVisAThing.” Other results:

  • Video units for Twitter drove the highest engagement as responses to the Promoted Trends.
  • Static images performed best in users’ newsfeeds.
  • Animated GIFs performed best as direct message replies and retweets.
  • The campaign generated 391 million impressions in seven days, a 129 percent increase over truTV’s 2015 campaign.
  • Organic/earned impressions increased three times over the prior year, to 297 million.
  • The number of unique participants increased 167 percent on Tuesday (the day of the first game) vs. 2015, 38 percent on Wednesday vs. 2015, and 59 percent on Thursday vs. 2015.
  • The number of mentions of the Promoted Trend and truTV-branded keywords was up 505 percent vs. 2015.
  • 15 times as many unique participants mentioned truTV or the #truTVisAThing campaign in 2016 vs. the same period of time in 2015.

Categories: | Industries: | Objectives: Cross Media Integration, Cross Mobile Integration | Awards: Finalist