Bewkes: Handing Power to Consumers

Jeff Bewkes is credited with some of the most strategic and successful marketing campaigns in the history of cable television. Indeed, he and his marketing team made HBO a household name with the “It’s Not TV. It’s HBO” campaign. Bewkes, president and chief operating officer of Time Warner Inc., is being honored with the GrandTAM award by the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing’s board of directors this year.

“Jeff Bewkes is a perfect recipient of CTAM’s GrandTAM, which is our highest honor, given his marketing and business leadership on so many facets of our industry from cable to premium television; AOL to a movie studio,” said CTAM president and CEO Char Beales. “When Jeff Bewkes was nominated for the 2007 GrandTAM Award, the CTAM board was quick and unanimous that this is the year to salute his industry leadership.”

The GrandTAM has been awarded since 1980 to recognize industry leaders who dedicate the time, talent and commitment to the industry through marketing, education and leadership. Bewkes joins a long list of distinguished leaders, including Comcast CEO Brian Roberts, MTV Networks CEO Judy McGrath, retired Starz Encore CEO John Sie, Rainbow Media CEO Josh Sapan, Showtime Networks CEO Matt Blank, and Insight Communications CEO Michael Willner.

“Marketing is enormously important, whether you’re talking about extending a well-known brand like CNN or establishing a new network, show or online property, such as,” Bewkes wrote in an electronic interview. “But the marketing needs to be well conceived and focused, and utilizing the most promising channels. Viewers are smart, and they know how to filter out the 'noise’ — the hard-sell or otherwise ineffectual ads — that marketers have traditionally used to raise awareness. We’re always looking at new ways to reach target viewers. It’s going to be trial and error, but we’ll keep learning as we work towards developing truly valuable marketing.”

Bewkes was named president and COO of Time Warner in December 2005 and was elected to the company’s board of directors in January 2007. He oversees Time Inc., HBO, Turner Broadcasting, Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema, Time Warner Cable and AOL. He joined HBO in 1987 as chief financial officer and became chairman of the unit in 2002. Before joining HBO, Bewkes was an account officer for Citibank NA, in New York.

Bewkes appreciates the cable industry’s ability to work together to solve issues and market the business. “One of the great core values of the cable industry is its collegiality — our ability to learn from each other and willingness to work together, when appropriate,” he wrote. “CTAM brings us all together so we share best practices and discuss ways to successfully take on the new competitive challenges of this rapidly changing media landscape.”

Technological advancements have had a huge impact on marketing, according to Bewkes. “At Time Warner, we’re committed to capitalizing on all of the new opportunities to put our brands in front of consumers. Not only do we have more ways and platforms on which to reach consumers, but now we can better measure the effectiveness of our marketing. The biggest change we’re facing as programmers is that we’re handing a lot of power over to consumers. So the challenge is how we can make that work to our advantage.”