In late 2004, with thousands of local military personnel deployed overseas in support of operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and other parts of the world, Comcast Corp.'s Eastern Division delivered a holiday gift to families and friends of service people throughout its footprint: Holiday Troop Greetings On Demand.
The program, available from Dec. 12, 2004, through Jan. 13, 2005, elicited a ton of consumer press and favorable remarks from family members of local military personnel stationed abroad, while generating plenty of goodwill and awareness for the MSO's On Demand platform.
For those and other reasons, Comcast's Eastern Division, reaching customers in seven states, was awarded a second-place honor in the free category of CTAM's 2005 On Demand Case Study Competition.
Introduced in 2003 in two markets, the initiative expanded considerably last year, as Comcast worked with the Army/Air Force Hometown News Service to obtain extended footage of video greetings from service men and women around the globe.
While traditional local news broadcasts often air messages from troops around the holidays — albeit randomly — families often miss seeing their loved ones. On Demand made it possible for Comcast customers to add a bit of holiday cheer by enabling them to watch the greeting repeatedly and on their schedule.
Working with CN8: The Comcast Network, the videotapes were edited into 30-minute shows, graphics were added and the programs were then loaded onto Comcast's VOD servers.
More than 530 different greetings were received, separated by state. The greetings attracted some 50,000 views over the aforementioned period, a 1,300% jump from the prior year. They ranked sixth on Comcast's list of most-watched free On Demand programs during Christmas week.
A 90-minute troop greeting special aired on CN8 on Christmas Eve and New Year's Day.
The principal vehicles Comcast deployed to get the word out about its troops-greeting effort were public relations and media, as well as a text message that was sent to all digital set-top boxes.