Pick a year, any year, among the quarter-century that CTAM has functioned, and chances are there will be at least one reason why John Billock could have picked up the Grand TAM, the organization's highest achievement award.
Until last October, as one of Home Box Office's key executives, Billock demonstrated time and again, whether through envelope-pushing techniques which brought a new dimension to premium service marketing, or promoting subscription video-on-demand rollouts, why many consider him to be a marketer's marketer.
Now, nine months after departing HBO to be vice chairman and chief operating officer of Time Warner Cable, Billock will get his Grand Tam, joining a prestigious roster of industry executives including Rainbow Media CEO Joshua Sapan, last year's honoree.
Why the honor in 2002? Recognition for HBO's leadership in executing SVOD and anticipation of what he will deliver at Time Warner Cable, as that AOL Time Warner unit prepares to bring its customers a new assortment of digital and enhanced services — one incorporating VOD, interactive television and home networking, labeled Mystro TV for now.
CTAM's board, because of the Time Warner Cable move, "wanted to call attention to what he's done in the business so far, and what he may do in a new part of the business," said association president and CEO Char Beales. "He's set a gold standard for marketing."
What kind of bar Billock and his Time Warner Cable marketing team will raise on Mystro TV's behalf has raised an endless shower of speculation. He'll give a peek this week in Boston, following the Grand Tam presentation at CTAM's Summit conference. "It's the coming out presentation for his strategies," Beales noted.
The many innovations Billock put into motion during his HBO tenure, which started in 1978 as marketing manager, became widespread conversation pieces first and industry practices later. They include the multiplexing of premium services, time-locked marketing campaigns, hotel and motel service distribution and separate 24-hour HBO channels for family viewing and the Latino market.
As president of HBO's U.S. networks group since 1997, Billock spearheaded a series of creative promotions in support of HBO's blockbuster Sunday night original series lineup, including The Sopranos, Six Feet Under, Sex and The City
and America Undercover.
"John probably didn't think up slogan lines like 'It's Not TV, It's HBO,' " Beales concludes. "But he helped HBO live up to them."
With his leadership, Time Warner Cable consumers will soon have the option to move into a new media future.