Every year CTAM honors the most notable and influential marketing campaigns from cable’s past and its present. The campaign or concept must be at least five years old and have had a positive impact on the company and the industry.
A screening committee of six industry leaders nominates campaigns for consideration, which are then evaluated by a team of judges made of CTAM board members, current and past committee chairs, Mark Award committee members and marketing agencies. Previous winners have included Cox Communications for its “Your Friend in the Digital Age” campaign (2006); Lifetime Television for its “Breast Cancer Awareness” campaign (2000); and Discovery Channel for its marketing of Shark Week (1999). Home Box Office, CNN and MTV have won the award twice.
Following is a list of this year’s nominees:
Cablevision Systems: Interactive Optimum (iO) Brand Campaign
Cablevision Systems launched its first digital offering, iO: Interactive Optimum, in 2001. Rather than introduce the product as a tier, the operator replaced its basic cable offering with over 200 cable and interactive channels, including 45 multiplex movie services, and over 700 new video-on-demand choices.
Cablevision also branded its on-screen navigation guide so that its on-demand offerings were on par with traditional cable networks. iO’s navigation has won two Emmy awards for technical design excellence and emphasizes the ease of interactive programming. Customers can buy or sell cars or homes; access local News 12 content; and sign up for premium services without having to call the company.
The product has been highly successful: iO has the country’s highest digital TV penetration. Today, 68% of Cablevision’s homes passed and more than 75% of its video customers subscribe to the iO service. Net subscriber growth has exceeded 5% for the last eight quarters, and customer satisfaction has climbed consistently since its launch.
The iO brand debuted six years ago with Cablevision’s “TV is Now iO” advertising campaign. The company immediately followed up with an aggressive direct marketing campaign that drove deeper customer understanding of the product. In 2004, iO became the foundation of Cablevision’s Optimum Triple Play. In the fourth quarter of 2006, the operator launched the iO “Do You See in HD?” campaign.
Fox News Channel: Fair and Balanced Campaign
When Fox was deciding whether to launch a cable news network in an already crowded field in 1996, the company found that while the number of news providers was growing, viewership was declining.
Research showed that the majority of Americans were either not news viewers or former news viewers disillusioned by the way it was presented. An audit of nightly news programs showed that on average only five minutes of a 22-minute newscast were dedicated to hard news.
Rather than being discouraged by those statistics, Fox’s executives decided they could take advantage of viewer apathy. The company hired former CNBC president Roger Ailes to create what it called a fair and balanced network to appeal to disgruntled viewers. Fox News Channel was born.
The network prided itself on balanced bookings and more on-screen information to balance out content. Moreover, political party representatives and commentators were identified as such and the network established a fact-checking department called the “brain room.”
The company knew the marketing of this new network had to reflect its approach to news in substance and style. From the start, “Fair and Balanced” was the motto inside the newsroom, and the marketing campaign reflected that. Fox used television, consumer/trade print, outdoor and radio ads to hype the network using the “Fair and Balanced” concept.
The approach has paid off. Fox News became the fastest distributed cable network ever. In 2002, the network became the No. 1 news network in the ratings. In 2004, Fox News ranked in the top quintile of all brands including Wal-Mart, Coke, Chevrolet and Kodak.
HBO: Marketing of 'The Sopranos’
There is little doubt that The Sopranos has become a cultural phenomenon since its 1999 debut on HBO. The show has become the crown jewel of the premium network’s programming, having garnered 17 Emmy Awards and earned the respect of critics.
The series has been wildly popular: 92% of HBO subscribers and 86% of the total population are aware of The Sopranos. It has been the network’s most watched original series since its debut. And it has generated more on-demand orders per episode than any other HBO series.
Marketing has been a key driver of the show’s success. From a creative standpoint, the advertising has evolved along with the series. Working with top talent such as photographer Annie Liebowitz, the print ads have blurred the line between art and commerce and helped differentiate the series.
Dramatic campaign elements are always balanced with subtle promotional tactics to communicate the series’ unique brand of dark humor.
For each of the past six seasons, HBO has launched extensive advertising, publicity and subscriber acquisition campaigns that are all designed to generate awareness among the broadest possible audience. Campaigns are multitiered and supported with a broad mix of media including: national and local TV, gatefold and spread units in print magazines, newspapers in major markets, extensive outdoor advertising, multiweek radio programs, online advertising and interactive applications.
HGTV: Dream Home Giveaway
Scripps Networks’ Home & Garden Television launched its first national promotion in 1996 by giving away a dream home. The idea was to create a flexible, cross-promotion opportunity that would drive consumer awareness for its brand. The network was available in 20 million homes at the time. Today, HGTV now reaches 91 million households.
Moreover, HGTV.com is the top-ranked online resource in the home and garden category, according to Nielsen/NetRatings. HGTV credits much of that to the exposure and interest each year from the HGTV Dream Home Giveaway.
As a multiplatform promotion, the HGTV Dream Home Giveaway takes advantage of point-of-purchase displays in retail outlets; on-air promotions across all of Scripps’ lifestyle networks, as well as cross-promotional spots run by affiliate partners; print ads in Scripps-owned newspapers; a package of broadband videos capturing the construction, interior design; and winner reveals.
The network also began soliciting home builders in 2006 on HGTVPro.com. HGTV has partnered with consumer publications to provide added exposure for the promotion and the brand, including a 16-page special section in InStyle magazine in 2006.
During its first year, the HGTV Dream Home Giveaway garnered about 1.5 million entries collected at advertisers’ point-of-sale displays and through the mail.
By 2006, the giveaway had amassed 54 million entries, up 39 million from the previous year. About 90% of the entries were submitted online at HGTV.com. HGTV figures the Dream Home Giveaway contributes as much as 10% of the brand’s total ad revenue.
NBC Universal: 'The Complete Olympics’
When NBC won the broadcast rights for five consecutive Olympic Games in 2000, the network knew it had its work cut out. The opportunity and the obligation to bring the games to U.S. homes were enormous and exciting at the same time. NBC’s executive staff knew the network had to deliver as many events as possible and follow the stories and drama of the games while they unfolded.
NBC used the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City as an opportunity to reinvent the broadcast model by expanding coverage to cable and Internet platforms. It also created a cable-centric marketing campaign designed to help affiliates leverage the Games to support local ad sales, community relations and subscriber acquisition, retention and broadband upgrade programs.
NBC Universal launched “The Complete Olympics,” campaign by carrying coverage on NBC, CNBC, MSNBC and nbcolympics.com. The company also created an exclusive partnership with Visa, a global Olympic sponsor. The campaign extended the credit card company’s “Bring Home the Gold” program. NBCU also created the “Visions of Glory” campaign, an in-school educational program with activities and youth-based contests. The Salt Lake Games were seen by 187 million unique viewers.
NBC expanded its Olympic coverage with the most recent Games in Torino, Italy, broadcasting on four of the NBCU networks with exclusive content on NBCU HD, Universal HD, via broadband and other wireless platforms with campaigns to match.
Marketing materials are now available via new platforms as well. Affiliates can now access a special microsite where they can find customizable marketing tools.