Comcast Recruits 76er for Install Promo

To highlight its fast-paced team of installers, Comcast Cable of Philadelphia recently enlisted local sports celebrity Pat Croce-president of the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers-for a subscriber acquisition and upgrade campaign dubbed "Fast Break."

Philadelphia-based ad agency D4 Creative Group developed the multimillion-dollar campaign for Comcast Corp., the cable operator that also owns a controlling stake in the 76ers. Spots ran on broadcast and cross-channel television in the tri-state Philadelphia market and were backed by direct mail, radio and newspaper ads.

Throughout the two-week campaign, Comcast offered new cable subscribers free installation within a 24-hour window.

Speedy installation serves as a competitive advantage for Comcast because the MSO is able to respond more locally than national direct-broadcast satellite providers, said Comcast east/west regional director of marketing Chip Goodman.

The cable operator planned ahead to ensure there were enough installers on hand to meet customer demand, Goodman added. Originally scheduled for a single week, Comcast extended the offer for a second week because it was so successful.

In addition to its acquisition campaign, Comcast offered speedy installations and three months of half-price service to current subscribers who upgraded to Home Box Office or digital cable. The first 1,000 customers who called for the upgrade offer also received a free copy of Croce's recently published book, I Feel Great and You Will Too.

Comcast is also testing a Web-based microsite to see if it can drive additional subscriber acquisitions and upgrades, D4 Creative president Kurt Shore said. The site will be promoted exclusively through postcards.

Comcast will offer a limited number of autographed copies of Croce's book via the microsite.

Croce's Comcast spots open with him talking to the Sixers in what appears to be a locker room. He tells the "players" that it's gut-check time and they need to be responsive.

By the end of the spot, however, viewers see that he's not talking to a basketball team, but a group of Comcast installers. He high-fives his charges and instructs them not to forget to wipe their feet.

"It has the humor that surprise can bring," Shore said.

Croce comes across as "genuinely enthusiastic about Comcast," said Goodman, who added that the 76ers president is "part of our family of companies."

Because Croce is well-known in the Philadelphia market, it made sense to run the promotion throughout the division, Goodman said.

Earlier this year, Comcast rebranded the Suburban Cable and Garden State Cable properties it had acquired. "From June forward, we were able to use one brand to communicate with our customers," Goodman said.

Comcast plans to use the "Fast Break" campaign again next year, possibly in February, said Goodman. The promotional effort was 15 to 20 percent more successful than others the company has run, he added.