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MediaOne Aims Broadband Products at Businesses

While MediaOne continues to build on the "It'sBroadband" identity, the company's Los Angeles region struggles with anothermarketing mission: developing a campaign to separately brand a new business-to-businessproduct.

The focus on broadband would not be effective -- thebusiness market targeted by the product already knows about the pipe. What marketersneeded to do was to tell them why they should use MediaOne's fiber optic, rather thantelephony T-1 or ADSL (asymmetrical digital subscriber line) services, or other deliverymechanisms.

In February the Los Angeles cluster announced the launch ofseveral services for businesses, including a regional Internet protocol (IP) fiberoptic-based network that can support traffic speeds from 4 to 622 megabits per second; andan ATM (asynchronous transfer mode) network integrating voice, video and data. Theservices are offered through the MediaOne Connect division serving Los Angeles, CulverCity and other suburban communities.

"MediaOne is a consumer brand, not a business brand.We have to get out there and explain this is not your home cable modem," said NelmaNatividad, MediaOne Connect interim marketing director.

Marketers had to come up with an appropriate message, andin a short time. Executives were determined to debut the service with a trade showappearance at Internet World March 11 in Los Angeles, less than three months from thelaunch announcement. There was an extra challenge -- marketers said the name of the newproducts were not cleared practically until the debut of the campaign the week of InternetWorld. They are now known as MetronetOne-IP and MetronetOne-ATM.

Because of the demographic of the marketplace, MediaOne istargeting the entertainment industry, especially post-production houses, as potentialearly adopters. Using the services, programming producers can edit at one location and addmusic at another location, while a director oversees from a third location. But even asthe campaign was being drawn up, potential customers were telling MetronetOne salespeople,"Just make my Internet connections faster first."

"Some of these entertainment companies have 20 runnersjust standing by, waiting to take film cans across town. We wanted to communicate theycould eliminate that," said Carol Quinn, senior vice president and creative directorfor Air Creative Group, MediaOne's agency.

Even though the events where the product's first twopresentations take place, Internet World and the upcoming National Association ofBroadcasters convention in April, are populated by techies, marketers rejected slicksheavy on technological buzz and focused on the bottom line. The marketing slogan is"How Can I Get There Faster?"

Hollywood is educating itself on the potential ofnetworking. Currently, the Creative Artists Agency is developing a demo for directorclients on how to remotely supervise sound and video editing and special effects. The demohas been put together by Digital Editing Solutions, but the network itself is fiber optic"donated by GTE," said Eric Norberg, director of new technology for thepost-production house.

GTE Corp., Pacific Bell and @Home Network market high-speeddata links in parts of greater Los Angeles. Though DES partnered with a telco for itsdemo, it has signed to be a MetronetOne client.

"They get it," explained Jeff Bachignani,director of DES' sales, editorial division. But what most attracted thepost-production firm to MediaOne is the cable operator, unlike telcos, is not subject totariffs.

The company should have more freedom to react to marketconditions and needs as the product matures, he said.

DES "just got lit up" and will build a media labto demonstrate the product, the executives said.

"There are new products emerging all the time, butthey are useless without connectivity," Norberg said. Once that is worked out,"geography doesn't matter anymore."

Two other post-production houses, Novocom (MediaOneConnect's beta site) and Cinesite, have signed up for services, according toNatividad.

Scott Tolleson, vice president and general manager ofMediaOne Connect, would not say how much the company spent on the branding campaign exceptto say, "We think we will recover the expense." He noted that many guests at theproduct's booth at Internet World had heard of their service, which was featured inHollywood trade publication ads going into the show.

While show business should supply profitable clients,Tolleson believes the application has great potential in the banking and medical fields,also. However, he has yet to determine if there are regionalized trade shows for thoseindustries that would be cost-effective given MetroNet One's limited reach.

One non-show business client is already sold. Quinn saidshe'd like to become a MetronetOne client to expand her ad agency without investingin more office space or equipment.

"They don't have time for us yet. They'realready too busy," she said.