MediaOne Group Inc. is counting on the power of the Oscars
and premium-programming discounts to drive new subscriptions and upgrades to its
"NexTV" advanced-analog service.
It's all part of the MSO's six-week
"Star-Powered Entertainment" promotion, which runs through March 12. The
promotion is one of four major companywide acquisition-and-upgrade campaigns that MediaOne
has planned for this year, according to Judi Allen, its senior vice president of video.
"Growing our subscriber base and our premium base is a
goal for all of our systems," Allen said.
Although the MSO has drafted about 40 versions of its
direct-mail brochure -- based on different programming lineups and package prices at the
system level -- the overall theme, creative and offer structure remain consistent
throughout the MSO.
Under the promotion, new subscribers receive installation
discounts and free 30-day premium-movie packages if they buy at least one premium service.
MediaOne is also offering current subscribers who upgrade to higher tiers 50 percent
discounts off all pay-per-view movies during the first 30 days.
MediaOne ran a similar offer -- with good results -- last
fall, when it first introduced its NexTV brand.
Backed by cross-channel spots, print advertising, radio and
direct mail, the Star-Powered Entertainment campaign is designed to take advantage of
excitement over the March 21 Academy Awards, with a focus on top Hollywood stars seen on
both basic and premium lineups.
Basic programmers Comedy Central and American Movie
Classics lent their support to the campaign, and they are represented prominently in
promotional materials. E! Entertainment Television will supply its Academy Awards
videotape, with subscribers' purchase of PPV movies, to certain new and upgraded
Allen said MediaOne has committed to developing a powerful
database of its customers. Taking information on how those customers have behaved in past
campaigns, she said, "We've developed targeting models on who's most likely
Direct-mail pieces will be sent to those deemed most likely
to upgrade, Allen said. "Then, we'll send a second mailing to those deemed
'most-most-likely' to upgrade. We're spending the most dollars on the best
prospects. It's better than the old shotgun approach."
All of the creative materials for the Star-Powered
Entertainment campaign were developed by Boston-based advertising agency Wickersham Hunt
In one television spot, a kitten is shown playing with a
colorful ball of yarn, when a voiceover breaks in with the message, "A cat can keep
itself amused for days with a ball of string. We're assuming that you, on the other
hand, have slightly more sophisticated entertainment needs."
"You need to keep the creative fresh," Allen
said, especially when targeting existing video subscribers. "When you're looking
for upgrades," she added, "you're dealing with a fixed pool of
Allen said it's also important that MediaOne controls
its own creative and messages, rather than relying on generic, industrywide cable
promotions -- especially given the investment that the company has made to create an
overall broadband image.