CTAM Readies For Boston Summit

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As its annual national convention approaches, the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing expects attendees will come away from this year’s gathering feeling they’ve learned much.

“There’s definitely fun, and there’s going to be some entertainment, but it’s not all about glitz and glamour and show,” said Katie Lacey, senior vice president of marketing at ESPN and a Summit co-chair. “It’s about real meaty topics with some substantive speakers and moderators. At the end of the day, when you’re trying to decide what you’re going to do, the thought that you can get something actionable for your business will help tip anybody who’s on the fence about it.”

The Nov. 9-11 conference, held at Boston’s HynesConvention Center, gets going in earnest on Monday Nov. 10, with an opening general session featuring Australia-born ad man David Droga, creative chairman of Droga5 in New York. Lacey described Droga as being on the “non-traditional side,” and CTAM said he’ll discuss new agency models that integrate the message with the medium.

This year’s conference will close with a general session during lunch on Tuesday, timed so people can be at work Wednesday morning, organizers said. It will feature a CEO panel including Tom Rutledge, who oversees Cablevision Systems’ cable operations and is the recipient of this year’s Grand TAM Award, CTAM’s top honor.

Scheduled to join him on the closing panel are Robert Glaser, RealNetworks chairman and CEO; David Zaslav, Discovery Communications CEO; David Verklin, Canoe Ventures CEO; and Jessica Reif Cohen, first vice president and managing director at Merrill Lynch. HarvardBusinessSchool professor Bharat Anand will moderate.

“One of the things that we’re hearing from our membership and the attendees is they really want a high level of education on where the industry is going,” said Rogers Communications chief strategy officer Mike Lee, the Summit’s other co-chair, in reference to the closing panel. “The objective is to be able to provide a directional overview for the attendees.”

Besides the bookend events, there will be topical sessions divided into five “tracks”: MSO Marketing, Network Marketing, Digital Media, and (new to this conference) MSO Product Development and Business Services.

Lee and CTAM president Char Beales said that, this year, with cable operators adding more telecommunications (including mobile) to the product mix, organizers decided to bring in more international expertise. “In this day and age,” Lee said, “we see so much innovation going on around the world, particularly at the carrier level, around multi-product offerings for consumers.”

Participating in a 4:15 p.m. session Nov. 10 about building a “bigger bundle” will be Paul Berriman, chief technology officer at PCCW in Hong Kong; Jean-Marc Harion, vice president of business development, France Telecom North America; and Sanford C. Bernstein & Co. vice president and senior analyst Craig Moffett. Bright House Networks president Nomi Bergman will host the panel.

Beales said that, while cable companies like Rogers in Canada are big mobile players and U.S. cable firms including Cox are making moves into mobile, competitors Verizon and AT&T already have mobile services to add to their respective FiOS TV and U-verse video offerings. “Cable’s got to get ready for what’s going to come at us,” she said of the bigger-bundle panel. “I think this will really be a breakthrough session.”

On Sunday Nov. 9, CTAM will announce the winners of the 25th annual Mark Awards, for excellence in marketing. AMC Networks will provide entertainment, Beales said.

The number of people signing up to attend the Summit is on pace with past gatherings at this point, according to CTAM officials. Last year’s in Washington was attended by 2,750 people.

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