CAB Talkers Tout Client Partnerships

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New York— Hot topics at last week's Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau Cable Advertising Conference ranged from the medium's ability to target an audience and original programming to the potential impact of a war against Iraq.

But at last Tuesday's gathering at the Marriott Marquis Hotel, usually dubbed the unofficial start of cable's upfront ad-buying season, the "U" word was uttered rarely.

Attendance was at an all-time high of 1,427, including a record 786 from the agency and client sides, a CAB spokesman said. Two of the morning sessions separated the participants into pairs, rather than going with the usual panel structure.

Ed Gordon, former host of Black Entertainment Television's BET Tonight, talked with three clients and their agencies about how they "leveraged the power of cable" by linking with networks in different ways.

Ethan Allen joined Home & Garden Television's "Dream Home Giveaway" sweepstakes last year to reach adults 25 to 54, via cable, online and other media. That contest drew 12 million entries and increased store traffic, so the retailer has become a presenting sponsor, said Ethan Allen vice president of advertising Leonora Kirkley and MediaCom executive vice president Donna Speciale.

"We all want to get more for our money in value," said Speciale.

Liked 'enhanced TV'

Mazda manager of marketing communications Kevin Everhart and Doner Advertising senior vice president John Lisko found the automaker's sponsorship of "enhanced TV" interactive features tied to ESPN's Sunday Night Football
to be very effective, as 500,000 viewers played along and 30 percent of them opted in for Mazda information last fall.

Another 80,000 viewers entered a Best of SportsCenter
"most exhilarating moments" contest via ESPN.com early this year, with 40 percent opting for information on cars.

Cingular Wireless joined forces with Cable News Network by not just buying time, but offering content from CNN.com to its wireless customers, said director of media Charlie Payne and OMD associate director of national TV buying John Friedman.

The youth and business segments are of particular interest to Cingular, the executives noted.

In separate remarks, CAB CEO Joseph Ostrow and Insight Communications Co. chief operating officer Kim Kelly, the CAB chairwoman, said last week's gathering and future events will be themed "Cable First."

That's in keeping with the premise that the medium should be considered "first nationally, first regionally and first locally" by the ad community, due to its continuing ratings gains at broadcast's expense.

Ostrow, who earlier disclosed plans to step down, said he would remain CEO for "another six weeks or so."

During his CAB stint, Ostrow said, cable's ad revenues have soared to $14.6 billion in network, local and spot cable in 2002 from $4.7 billion in 1994.

The CAB's newly released "Cable TV Facts" booklet, citing Kagan World Media data, projected that total cable volume would top $16.1 billion this year. Network cable was predicted to advance to $12.1 billion from $10.9 billion.

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