Comcast Keeps 'House'

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The home-improvement experts of A&E's Flip This House will be doing double duty beginning this week, helping Comcast's Eastern Division market business services.

In a first for the MSO, the show's stars, contractors Nathaniel Merrill and Paul Esajian of CT Homes in New Haven, Conn., are featured in region-wide spots touting the operator's bundled services for businesses. In the same commercial, they offer tune-in information for the series on local systems.

In the series, the businessmen buy distressed properties, improve them and sell them for a profit. In one of the spots, Merrill says: “It's our business to take a wreck like this and turn it into a hot property like this. We can take a house to the next level, just like Comcast can take your business to the next level.”

He then touts the attributes of each product in the triple-play bundle for small businesses.

Bill Andrews, the Eastern division's vice president of business services, said the sale of commercial products is a top priority for the region. Marketers are always looking out for creative ways to tell prospective customers that “Comcast is open for business,” he said.

The campaign, combining tune-in with business-service sales, grew out of meetings between A&E and cable executives in the Potomac region.

“A&E's a great programming partner,” Andrews said, and the two companies are always talking about ways to improve one another's business. Plus, the home builders in the spots are small business owners themselves, so their message may have greater resonance with target viewers.

Flip This House just seemed to be a natural hook,” said A&E Network vice president of distribution marketing Jennifer Ball. In other versions of the spots, the home builders will offer improvement tips, she said, as well as highlighting other Comcast products, such as video-on-demand.

Andrews said the company would track the effectiveness of the campaign by gauging brand awareness with focus groups, and tracking sales. The spots end with an offer of phone service beginning at $19.95, he said.

“We're really excited about [the campaign],” he said, adding that the effort could go national.

Ball noted this type of joint advertising would be offered to other affiliates.

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