The Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing is extending a warm Big Easy welcome to attendees of its 2010 Summit.
It's just not to as many as people as the cable industry's marketing organization had been hoping to greet.
"It looks like we're going to be down from our target [of 1,900]," CTAM president and CEO Char Beales said in an interview last week. "We're still registering so we don't have a complete view of attendance just yet."
Beales said that while the CTAM Summit, scheduled today through Wednesday at the Hilton New Orleans Riverside, has added new companies to its base of attendees, there has been a falloff relative to some sending as many as mid-level executives in the past or, sadly, because of attrition.
"There's no secret a lot of companies have scaled back because of the economy," said Beales, noting that the Summit -- whose tagline is "Connect. Innovate. Succeed." -- still will be host to many executives at the vice president level or higher.
Summit officials want those who've made the jaunt here to connect with more than memories of Cajun or Creole delectables, or indelible riffs by jazz or zydeco musicians.
Conference co-chair Janet Rollé, executive vice president and chief marketing officer at BET Networks, said the conference will be successful if "attendees leave with three to five actionable ideas and/or best practices that will more than make up for the bandwidth and time they spent away from the office and ultimately result in smart ROI for their company in sending them to the Summit."
The Summit's other co-chair, Cablevision Systems executive vice president of marketing and advertising Jon Hargis, said sessions on interactive TV would be compelling. As Fox hosted auditions at the Hilton for American Idol, Hargis said those dropping in on "ITV Idol: Ground Breaking Applications" on Oct. 18 at 4:30 p.m. will learn how ITV can impact business, generate revenue and engender retention and customer loyalty. Moreover, they will get to vote on their favorite application, crowning the winners with the inaugural "CTAM Summit Get Interactive! Awards."
"It's an interactive session on interactive TV," said Hargis.
He also gave two thumbs up to the summit's session on direct marketing sessions. "Direct marketing has always been a key component for MSOs. It can be tracked for ROI and we can assess the metrics well," he said. "But direct marketing is changing and there are new applications through mobile and social media that can be used as fresh tactics."
For her part, Rollé also pointed Summit attendees toward the "Stretching Beyond the Obvious: Half Day Social Media Immersion" program from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesday.
"This is an evolving, exciting topic. Marketers can harness these sessions to find ideas and best social media practices they can integrate into overall strategies for campaigns," she said.
Beales said there has been significant enrollment in the Face Time sessions with industry leaders in which attendees can ask questions in an interactive environment. Space is limited to the first 50 RSVPs per speaker.
Time Warner Cable executive vice president and marketing officer Sam Howe and Comcast executive vice president and chief technical officer Tony Werner will speak on Monday. They will be followed by a quartet on Tuesday: In Demand president and CEO Bob Benya and Wonya Lucas, executive vice president and chief operating officer Discovery Channel and Science Channel will field questions in the morning, while Joan Gillman, executive vice president and president of Time Warner Cable Media Sales and Cox senior vice president of programming Bob Wilson will talk that afternoon.
Other points of interest: A panel on the burgeoning world of 3D, "How Does 3D Sharpen Stories and Brands?" and a vuvuzela-free (one hopes) research recap on how fans consumed multiplatform coverage from the 2010 FIFA World Cup from South Africa, entitled "Cross-Media Connections: 64 Things ESPN Learned from the World's Biggest Sporting Event."
And this being CTAM, there are partying, er, networking opportunities to the close the first two days of the Summit.
USA Network tonight will host a Characters Unite event, "A More Perfect Union: Stories of Prejudice and Power at Generations Hall" from 9 p.m. to midnight. The evening will include a story from Jacqui Vines, the senior vice president and general manager of Cox Louisiana. (See story this page).
On Oct. 19, Rainbow Media, MSG and Fuse invite Summit attendees to a four-stage soiree at the House of Blues to benefit the Ellis Marsalis Center for Music from 9 p.m. to midnight.
JD & The Straight Shot, fronted by Cablevision Systems CEO Jim Dolan, will serve as master of ceremonies, along with Don Draper himself, Jon Hamm, who plays the creative ad genius on AMC's three-time Emmy winner for best drama, Mad Men.
In addition to bevy of NOLA musicians, "The Voodoo, Blues & Zuzus" bash, open to all 2010 CTAM Summit attendees from 9 p.m. to 1 a.m., also will feature a costume party and local flavors from area chefs - zuzus is Creole for sweets or desserts and for a costume party.