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CTAM Plans Ad Blitz On Cable Merits

The cable industry is embarking on a new national marketing and advertising campaign — "Only Cable Can" — designed to tout high-speed data, HDTV and video-on-demand services available on cable's broadband platform.

The multimillion-dollar effort, spearheaded by the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing, is scheduled to break today [Nov. 17] with TV spots on a dozen national cable networks.

CTAM officials said this marks the first time the marketing organization has launched a nationwide ad campaign or a consumer Web site for cable (

MSOs also plan to run the spots, which plug a toll-free phone number and the Web site, on their local cross-channel inventory.

"The priority has been driven by our need as an industry to communicate our unique advantages," said Time Warner Cable senior vice president of marketing Brian Kelly, co-chair of CTAM's MSO Marketers' Council, made up of the top 10 MSOs.

Kelly spearheaded the effort, along with Comcast Cable senior vice president of marketing and new products Andy Addis and Joe Rooney, senior vice president of marketing at Cox Communications.

Value Pitch

"We think we have a better customer value proposition now more than ever," Kelly added. "[The campaign] is a strategic imperative.

"The fact we're battling competitors who are well-heeled and can market on a national platform was somewhat of a driver. It was another vehicle that we could create to gain share of voice and share of mind about the kinds of products and services we offer."

Given their national platforms, direct-broadcast satellite providers DirecTV Inc. and EchoStar Communications Corp., which operates Dish Network, have held a marketing edge in their ability to tout their packages and services to a wider swath of consumers. This fall, for instance, both have pushed digital video recorder promotions.

CTAM's campaign will feature generic spots that cover each of the three product areas — high-speed Internet service, HDTV and movies-on-demand. Individual TV spots for those three specific categories also were created.

Each commercial will contain a toll-free number to call, plus information about the newly established Web site. Consumers that call the toll-free number are asked their ZIP code, then routed to the local or regional call center of their cable provider.

"It's the same technology as the cable mover's hotline," Kelly said.

The Web site, developed by Cable Television Laboratories Inc., is an offshoot of that organization's Go2Broadband Web site. will also include information on cable's high-speed, HDTV and VOD products.

"It will drill down into the advantages that we have and link to various MSOs that are participating in the campaign," Kelly said. "It's a very well-knit effort with CableLabs."

The TV spots were created by Philadelphia-based Red Tettemer, which has produced ad campaigns for Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision Systems Corp. and Insight Communications Co.

"That saved us a lot of time," Kelly said, enabling the industry to get its creative ready by the holiday season.

Plans call for the campaign will run through the end of December, take several weeks off. After the hiatus, it will pick up again in mid-January and run through the end of February.

At the point, the campaign will then be evaluated and could reappear later in 2004, with new executions heralding other applications like subscription VOD or DVR. It's possible that the effort might be extended to herald more specific product pushes, like particular movies for on-demand content, Kelly said.

In addition to the national advertising buys, MSOs could buttress the schedule by running the same spots locally. Operators also will determine how much they run ads in their cross-channel avails. Many MSOs have their own, branded marketing campaigns, such as Time Warner's "iControl," which includes greater specificity about products in their local systems.

Looking Ahead

CTAM CEO Char Beales said the Web site, designed by Norwood, Mass., integrated media producer Cramer, could eventually be expanded to carry explanatory materials for plug-and-play, smart cards and other new cable-related technology.

Kelly said CTAM and the National Cable & Telecommunications Association are talking about adding a Cable in the Classroom section to the Web site.

"There was an immense amount of work that has taken place to build a consensus and the campaign is a testament to everyone's commitment," Kelly said. "Getting the campaign in the field in time for holiday shopping season was very important."

VOD providers were happy. "We are thrilled that movies-on-demand is one of the killer aps cable MSOs are putting front and center in front of DBS customers, said Sergei Kuharsky, senior vice president of In Demand. "You've got to fish where the fish are, and we know there are lots of movie lovers in the DBS subscriber area."