Adelphia Puts Own Brand on Cleveland Systems

Adelphia Communications Corp. late last week started re-branding the Cleveland-area cable systems it acquired from Cablevision Systems Corp. The deal closed late Wednesday.

The $1.35-billion transaction gives Adelphia a bigger foothold in middle America, and allows Cablevision to focus more closely on its metropolitan New York cluster.

Because the deal was announced last December, Adelphia's marketing team has been preparing to make itself known to Cleveland-area subscribers for some time. But it was still waiting for the deal to close early last week before it could gain access to the customer list in order to launch a direct-mail campaign, Great Lakes region vice president of marketing and sales John Cimperman said.

Under the headline "High-Tech In Your Hometown," welcome kits are on their way to the roughly 306,000 Cleveland-area subscribers that Adelphia picked up in the acquisition. The kit's envelope emphasizes Adelphia as a "new cable entertainment and communications services provider," and not just a new name for the same old company.

Adelphia promoted its fiber-optic upgrades in its subscriber welcome kits. The upgraded plant will allow Adelphia to add digital cable and high-speed Internet access. The company also plans to sell personal paging, long-distance and home-security services in Cleveland.

The new services will likely be crucial to Adelphia's business plan, as the MSO paid roughly $5,000 for each Cleveland area subscriber.

A question-and-answer card in the welcome kit tells newly-acquired customers that although Adelphia doesn't plan to make immediate changes to existing programming packages or rates, it does plan to eventually discontinue all adult programming, in keeping with its image as a "family company."

New subscribers are encouraged to enroll in the Adelphia Awards subscriber incentive program, which the MSO introduced late last year in its Buffalo, N.Y., system.

Cleveland-based Wyse Advertising produced the television spots that alert Cleveland consumers of their new cable company.

The actors in the spots boast a mix of ethnic backgrounds and ages. In one spot promoting digital cable, an elderly man asks his (also elderly) wife what she wants to do that night.

"How about a quiet night," the wife replies, "just you, me and Harrison Ford?" The husband agrees, as long as they can include Elizabeth Hurley, too.

Other ads promote Adelphia's Power Link cable-modem service and the general benefits of a broadband system.

"The future is closer than you think," one spot promises.

The TV-ad campaign was scheduled to break less than one week before Election Day. That made the media time very expensive, Cimperman said.

Adelphia is supporting the re-branding campaign with heavy outdoor media. One mass-transit ad reads, "Digital cable and high-speed Internet-all aboard," and adds the Adelphia tag line.

A highway sign reads, "This Exit: Gas, Food and Interconnectivity."

In addition to Cleveland, Adelphia will introduce itself to dozens of suburbs and other towns across Northeast Ohio, including Akron, Bedford, Euclid, Lakewood and Shaker Heights.