ESPN Good Sports Award

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Time Warner Cable New England is the recipient of this year’s ESPN Good Sports Award for its “Top Pop” contest. The award is given annually to a project that generates outstanding community involvement through education and athletics. As its sponsor, ESPN hopes this award encourages cable operators to promote teamwork, sportsmanship and education in their community-affairs programs.

Time Warner Cable’s New England Division invited students in grades 4-12 who live in its Maine system to submit an essay that described why their dads should be named one of Maine’s Top Pops. The essay contest was designed so that children in all grade levels could participate, either on their own or as part of their class to give them an opportunity to write about their dads before Father’s Day. Ultimately each participant’s teacher had to sign off on the essay submission.

The objective was to create a new signature event for the system, develop a positive relationship with the schools and enhance the company’s image as a valuable community partner. In partnership with NESN and WJBQ, one of the highest rated local radio stations in the area, 25 Dads were selected by a panel of judges and honored at a luncheon celebration followed by a baseball game on Saturday, June 12, 2004, at the Portland Sea Dogs stadium, the Double-A Affiliate of the Boston Red Sox. The first 200 essay entrants also received tickets to the game.

The three P’s: prizes, promotion and participation were essential to the success of this event. The prizes selected created the “Wow” factor that would attract the targeted audiences of families and teachers. One “Top” essay from each grade level — elementary, middle and high school — was announced winning a HD Television and one year of Digital/HD programming for the Dads profiled.

The teachers of these three students received a new computer for their classrooms. Each Top Pop received a gift basket valued at $300, and the Top Pops who traveled from northern Maine to attend the event had complimentary hotel accommodations at a luxury hotel. Promotional tactics included cross channel, radio, online, direct mail to schools and posters.

Top Pop, Maine’s Best Dad essay contest was a complete success. Time Warner Cable received 250 essays and many positive comments from the teachers, children and parents who participated. The Sea Dogs baseball stadium had one of their highest attended games that day with 6,324 fans in the stadium; the park seats 6,975.

Lastly, the event was successful in promoting Time Warner Cable’s high-definition service, as there was a 20% increase in its HD customer base from the time it started promoting Top Pop to the end. The Top Pop event made an impact on all of the intended audiences allowing Time Warner Cable to cultivate new relationships and deepen the existing ones and truly exceeding expectations.

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