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Time Warner New York's Hot 'Button'

When CTAM recrafted it's Top of the Mark Award honoring the best campaign of the year, some board members worried that it would be difficult for local operators to compete against the extensive marketing machines run by the programming networks.

They apparently needn't have been concerned. Last year Cox Business Services shared the award with VH1. This year, the Top of the Mark was awarded solely to Time Warner Cable's New York division with its “My Favorite Button” campaign designed to promote the operator's launch of digital video recorders.

“The Top of the Mark Award is the highest scoring entry in the Mark Awards each year,” says Cable &Telecommunications Association for Marketing president and CEO Char Beales. “The campaign designed by Time Warner Cable's New York division was extremely effective in that market, and it stood out with the judges as having the highest quality.”

Time Warner New York tasked its in-house creative services group with creating a campaign that would jumpstart DVR sales, says Therese Berkowitz, creative director for the group.

“We had just come into the market with DVRs, and we wanted to let people know they existed. Most of our people live in Time Warner's service territory, and a lot of us had DVRs in our homes. We quickly figured out that everyone related to the box differently, so we decided to put a personal spin on the campaign based on how we used them and what we liked best.”

The result: Berkowitz's creative team — including copywriter Mike Dunn, designer Tim Gonzales and video producer Richard Brukner — came up with three separate ads addressing completely different features of the DVR box.

“It was the unique lifestyles that drove the way people use the DVR box,” Berkowitz says. “In essence, we designed the campaign around how we all related to the various buttons on the box.

“It all came down to what really turned people on about that technology and how it made their lives easier,” Berkowitz says. For example, one ad featured a harried mom who could never seem to find the time to watch a show without being interrupted several times. She loves the “pause” button.

The campaign was not only fun to create, it was very successful. The cross-channel spots were untraceable, but the direct-mail pieces were well-received by customers in the New York market. Berkowitz says the first mailer alone achieved a 5% return rate. The spots have run periodically since the campaign first debuted last year and Time Warner created a Spanish-language version that has also been successful.

“The campaign definitely had legs,” Berkowitz says. “We used it throughout 2004, and it could be recrafted and used again at a later date.”

Other Time Warner systems could end up using the campaign as well. Each division generally designs its own marketing campaigns using either in-house creative talent or by hiring local marketing firms. But the divisions have been known to trade campaigns when appropriate.

“It is quite an honor to have another division use one of our campaigns,” Berkowitz says. “As more divisions promote DVRs, they could easily use this campaign. It worked well for our division. I think it would work well in others, too.”