Comcasts Digital Strategy: Make Em Laugh


In an effort to educate subscribers about digital
cable's varied benefits, Comcast Corp. has created an impressive collection of
30-second television spots, each of which humorously highlights a single aspect of the

Although digital-cable customers appreciate the interactive
on-screen programming guide, cable operators have long held that most don't
understand what else it can do for them until they've used it in their homes.

One of the new Comcast spots that features the on-screen
guide shows a pair of attractive women seated at a party between two nerdy-looking guys.
When they can't find a break in the conversation to excuse themselves, the girls pick
up a remote control, do a quick on-screen programming search and find a Star Trek
episode. In the next shot, the girls are gone and the guys left alone on the couch,
captivated by the show.

The ad is one of dozens of spots created since last fall by
ad agency Red Tettemer Inc. for Comcast's "Cool New World" campaign, and
one of three shown at a recent Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing
conference in Los Angeles.

"Education and communication are important" in
controlling digital-cable churn, Comcast vice president of marketing for digital Andy
Addis said at the recent CTAM Digital & Pay-Per-View Conference. Digital-cable
customers who churn tend to leave within four to six months, Addis noted, so early
education on digital features and benefits is critical.

The secret to getting the benefits across in a short spot
is to explain each feature on its own, and not to pile on other messages such as pricing
or special promotions, Red Tettemer president Ed Tettemer said.

"In the next half hour, there's going to be an
opportunity for another commercial," he said. "You can always explain something
else then. Thirty seconds is an eternity if you have one simple message."

In another spot, a young boy asks his parents to remind him
about the important dates in their lives: When is Mom's birthday? When were Mom and
Dad married? But the viewer quickly learns the child is not putting together a family
history or planning to buy a gift when his mother finally responds, "You'll
never get the [parental-control] code."

"We try to make a smile with every ad," Tettemer
said. "It's an entertainment product, so the ads themselves should be

In research, Comcast and Tettemer found that many non-cable
subscribers would welcome digital cable once they learned about the parental-control
feature. They also found that different digital features appeal to different customer

"The diversity of our customer base is so great and
the differences between the generations is so big that we can target different customers
with different features," Tettemer said.

The benefit of creating such a diverse ad campaign for an
MSO is that cable operators have ready access to media, Tettemer said.

In new spots produced by Tettemer earlier this month,
Comcast demonstrates the on-screen guides' program-synopsis feature. One commercial
shows a man preparing to walk into a job interview. As he's looking over his resume,
an information box pops up with the message, "Your zipper's down."

The ad's tag line is, "Wouldn't this be
great if you could use this in the rest of your life?"

The same tag line follows an ad in which a man approaches a
woman at a coffee shop and asks, "Is this seat taken?" The woman hits the
information button and a screen pops up which reads, "This guy is married."