NCC Blows Its Own Horn

Taking its own advice, National Cable Communications has increased its advertising aimed at the media-buying community.

NCC, the largest spot-cable ad-sales rep, will employ the tagline, "NCC will change the way you think about spot cable."

After working in recent years to improve the spot-cable backroom via the widespread implementation of such technologies as electronic-data interchange, NCC is now calling the ad community's attention to spot cable as a much more effective, buyer-friendly media buy.

To date, NCC has expanded its electronic invoicing to more than 2,100 cable operators, or 80 percent of its represented systems.

NCC vice president of affiliate relations and corporate marketing Steve Houck said Marlin Entertainment would serve as agency of record for "an integrated branding effort designed to showcase NCC's new look and electronic-business solutions."

Part of that effort will entail a trade ad campaign, which is running in Advertising Age
and elsewhere, that will feature a new NCC logo and a photo of a dalmatian — the latter related to the copy, "See Spot Run. See NCC."

The rep firm has also sent out flash-animation electronic mail to "several thousand" contacts at ad agencies, clients and cable operators, a spokesman said last week.

The message incorporates copy and images from the print executions with the message: "Maximize your media plan … We're making the process simple."

In addition, this fall NCC will relaunch its Web site,, to offer media buyers "e-business solutions," he said. NCC has given users a preview of the revamped site in recent weeks.

The rep firm's one-stop-shopping capability also extends to its promotions department, which can develop sweepstakes and other tailored integrated-marketing solutions for national marketers, according to its Web site.

And NCC's CableLink interconnects have now been expanded into more than 30 markets, executives said, and that total should hit 50 by the end of 2002.

Cleveland and Albany, N.Y., were connected late in the second quarter, joining other DMAs such as Buffalo; Grand Rapids, Mich.; and Wilkes-Barre, Pa.

The first two markets were Providence, R.I., and Hartford, Conn., connected last fall.

Ultimately, as NCC CEO Tom Olson has promised, the rep intends to enable advertisers to buy spot time in any of the top 100 DMAs with a single order.

In another change — this one in the executive suite — NCC president and chief operating officer John Sawhill will retire at year's end.

Sawhill became CEO in January 1998, largely due to NCC's strong sales year in 1997. He joined NCC in 1996 from the broadcast side; he was president and general manager of WJLA-TV, ABC's affiliate in Washington.

Such key NCC executives as executive vice president of sales Andrew Ward actually began reporting to Olson rather than Sawhill early this year, sources said.

About two-and-a-half years ago, Sawhill relinquished the CEO title to Olson, who had been CEO at Katz Media Group, one of the partners in the top spot-rep firm.

The ranks of NCC's MSO partners have thinned due to consolidation. There are now four: AT&T Broadband, Comcast Corp., Cox Communications Inc. and Time Warner Cable. AT&T first became an NCC partner about two and a half years ago, when it was still Tele-Communications Inc.