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CTAM Recap: Beales Remains Upbeat

A heat wave and some transportation issues tied to problems with Big Dig are in her rearview mirror, and Char Beales is looking back at the CTAM Summit in a very positive light.

“We’re thrilled with the feedback, it was extraordinarily positive. Based on the comments we received, I think The Summit succeeded in getting our members to think a little differently,” the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing president and CEO said, referring to the confab’s “The New World” theme, which focused on the challenges/opportunities faced by marketers in today’s multiplatform environment.

All told, the CTAM Summit attracted 3020 attendees, down from 3401 last year in Philadelphia, but above the 2780 who gathered in 2004, when the conference was last held in Beantown.

Beales said last year’s attendance was lifted by a large contingent of executives from Comcast, which is based in Philadelphia, while this year’s event suffered from the impending takeover of Adelphia Communications by Comcast and Time Warner Cable. She said more cable operators attended this year’s Summit than in 2004.

Asked for some highlights, Beales pointed to the presentation by Young & Rubicam vice chairman June Blocklin, who showed a montage of cable spots focusing on consumer cost.

“We seemed to be focused so much on price,” Beales said. “I think the idea came across that we’re not communicating positive consumer experience with cable enough.”

Beales also said attendees were “blown away” by the presentation by the company’s senior VP, marketing and content Shawn Gold, and that they walked away with “good examples of new marketing tactics from final panel, “New Marketing Hit Makers.”

CTAM also made news of its own when it announced it would shift the Summit to a fall date in 2010. While the change is slated for 2010, the scheduling switch could come a lot sooner. “We’re talking to the venues, if we can start earlier, we will. We would consider 2008, if possible,” Beales added.

The 2007 CTAM Summit will be held in Washington, D.C., July 23-25, at the new Washington Convention Center. The Summit is scheduled for Denver and Boston in 2008 and 2009, respectively.

Beales said reaction to the move was “universally positive. Our members said they wanted a fall week to go along with a spring week [for the National Show].” Beyond that there were other factors that fueled the impending change, including July also being home to the Television Critics Association summer press tour.

“There will be more time for our programming members who have to go back to back,” she said, adding that the same holds true for staffers at CTAM, which has assumed administration of the TCA tour from National Cable & Telecommunications Association.

Although CTAM is eyeing late October dates, the Summit could swing into early November. That way there would be even more distance between the event and September’s Diversity Week activities, and it would also enable the budgeting process for the following year to be largely completed. “Usually, the budgets have risen to the corporate level for approval,” she said.

As for next year, Time Warner Cable chief marketing officer Sam Howe and The Weather Channel general manager Wonya Lucas will serve as Summit co-chairs.

“Wonya and Sam were making the rounds with an eye toward what can work in Washington next summer,” said Beales.