Promax's Chabin Has Cable in Mind

Last November, Jim Chabin once again became Promax/BDA's CEO. His return to the marketing and promotion association he led from 1992 to 1999 is also meant to spark a rebirth for the group.

Promax/BDA's membership fell due to industry consolidation while he served as president of the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the keeper of the Emmy Awards.

"While I was out — while I was gone — consolidation took a toll" on Promax membership. It now stands at about 3,000, down from three years ago, Chabin said with a wry smile during a recent interview.

Chabin's return may also mean a bigger role for the cable industry and its main marketing group. Besides serving as Promax's fastest-growing segment, Chabin said cable accounted for 53 percent of the 3,000 attendees at its annual convention last June.

During his first Promax tour, Chabin worked with the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing in planning sessions for its annual gathering, and he's interested in doing so again.

For her part, CTAM CEO Char Beales seemed to concur.

"We have not worked closely with Promax in recent years… [when] they had different leadership and they weren't as interested," she said earlier this month. "Now that [Chabin] is back, I would expect us to work with them again."

Apple polish

Chabin also said he's working on bringing Promax's big annual meeting — set for June 4 to 6 in Los Angeles — to New York in 2004. That would be its first Big Apple appearance in about 20 years.

"Several key initiatives" are also in the works for 2003, he said. One centers on research, he said, indicating that Frank Magid Associates will unveil a study at Promax's June confab.

The gathering should also serve as a forum for showcasing potential tie-in opportunities can be showcased — but only those offering more lead time than in the past, he said.

Another goal involves a "promotion upfront meeting," at which campaigns for various network and syndicated programs would be discussed, along with ways in which advertisers could tie-in, he said.

In the 1990s, Chabin said, "it was all about [cable] network launchings and branding," but the mantra now is about how to leverage the brand for better return on investment." That can be accomplished with better research and "cutting through the [promotional] clutter," he noted.

A past chair and a member of both Promax and CTAM, Hallmark Channel executive vice president of worldwide marketing Chris Moseley is among those who find some of Chabin's proposals promising. Moseley was on the Promax committee that recommended Chabin be rehired last fall.

"It's critical in a down economy to emphasize return on investment," she said. But "it's hard to quantify return on investment for all product advertising, not just TV and cable," Mosely conceded.

That's why Chabin's new emphasis on consumer research is so important. Any research helps marketing and promotions executives to justify their budgets, she said.

Conducted via telephone early this month among 1,000 adults by Seidmon Associates and Opinion Research Corp., Promax recently released study results meant to help gauge the importance of promotional spots to viewers.

Asked whether they considered on-air TV or Internet promotion more valuable in determining which programs to watch, 79 percent of the respondents said TV promos were more valuable, while 18 percent cited the Web.