Cutting Through the Clutter in Boston


Themed “The New World,” the annual CTAM Summit in July will focus on “the four Ms” — new media, new marketing strategies, new mobility and new management practices, according to organizers of the event.

“With all the [advertising] money crowding the marketplace, it means greater clutter. We need to look at new ways to cut through the clutter,” said Fox Cable Networks president of affiliate sales and marketing Lindsay Gardner.

Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing CEO Char Beales, Gardner — a co-chair of the Summit, along with fellow co-chair Patricia Gottesman, Cablevision’s executive vice president of product management and marketing — briefed reporters last week on plans for the convention, which runs July 17 to 20 in Boston.

Past CTAM conventions have commenced on Sunday and closed with the group’s annual Mark Awards ceremony, honoring the best in cable marketing. This time around, though, the group will instead kick off the event with the Mark Awards, in partnership with Multichannel News, the evening of Monday, July 17, with plans to run panel sessions all day Tuesday and Wednesday.

Beales said early registrations for the Summit bode well for the final attendance count. Last year’s CTAM Summit in Philadelphia drew 3,300 attendees.

Keynote speakers include Intel Digital Home Group vice president and general Donald McDonald, Young & Rubicam vice chairman June Blocklin and MTV Networks chairman and CEO Judy McGrath.

No cable CEOs are scheduled to speak. Beales said that the timing of the Adelphia Communications Corp.’s merger with Time Warner Cable and Comcast Corp. could also affect attendance.

Most of the sessions are geared to coaching cable marketers on everything from pitching triple-play packages of video, voice and Internet services to competing against DirecTV Inc., Verizon Communications Inc. and other rivals.

“We are here to educate, and are very serious about that. We’re at a point in the cycle of the industry where there is a need for education,” Beales said.

The group will also spotlight its annual “CTAM U” executive education program at Harvard Business School in one session, which will feature 35 CTAM U alums debating a Harvard professor on a case study involving Circuit City.

CTAM’s board voted last year to ban satellite distributors, Verizon and other major Bell companies from joining the trade group.

Beales said executives from DirecTV, AT&T Corp. and other cable rivals are allowed to attend the convention, but she said a few tutorial sessions will only be open to executives that work for cable distributors.

Although previous CTAM conventions in Boston featured a closing block party with several cable networks, there won’t be a “rally in the alley” at the July confab. Rather, MTV Networks will sponsor a party for all CTAM attendees on July 17, and Disney Cable Networks will sponsor a party on July 18.