Fun and Games on Summit Stage


Seattle -- Before Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing
president and CEO Char Beales and Microsoft Corp. CEO Steve Ballmer took the
stage at the CTAM Summit’s opening general session here, conference co-chairs
Rich Cronin and Joe Rooney woke attendees up with their "art and science" of
marketing routine.

While in the midst of welcoming the group, highlighting sessions and thanking

Cronin, Game Show Network’s CEO, and Rooney, Cox Communications Inc.’s senior
vice president of marketing -- the "art" and "science" guys -- had Summit
sitters in stitches.

Playing off the notion of retaining customers and viewers, the pair talked up
"fish retention" as a conference theme.

Cronin asked how many attendees had visited Pike’s Place Market to see the
merchants’ flying-fish routine. The pair soon provided their own impersonation.
Cronin tossed a fake fish across the stage -- an unscripted move, according to
the Cox executive. Rooney snatched the trophy.

Cronin later talked about Rooney’s emphasis on the marketing of Cox’s bundle.
Rooney made sure everyone knew where he was coming from: "That’s bundling, not

In discussing the six parties scheduled Monday night, Cronin said Beales was
evidently going for a "Sleepless in Seattle" theme. But with activities
scheduled near the Space Needle, Cronin said he suggested "Panic in Needle
Park." Somehow she "didn’t go for it," he added.

Showtime Networks Inc. chairman and CEO Matt Blank also played humorous in
accepting his "Grand TAM Award," honoring talent and commitment to the industry
via marketing, education and leadership.

He recalled early career adventures during his days selling Home Box Office
in which one Pennsylvania system ran an ad slick with the words, "your system
here, your phone number here," in the local paper.

He also recounted a signal problem that disrupted a sellathon in Hickory,
N.C. He and Marc Nathanson visited the headend to find that cows had knocked
over a fence into the dish. Blank, who had just obtained his first pair of Gucci
shoes, said his footwear got a little too close to what the bovine left behind.
The moral of the story: "Wear sneakers."

Turning serious later, Blank said his move to cable from a career that began
at American Express Co. rewarded him with many friends, as well as meetings with
presidents and senators and a king (boxing impresario Don King).

He advised industry newcomers to "take risks and meet friends. If you do,
you’ll be very fortunate, indeed."