New York -- Over the past two years, spot-cable ad-sales
rep firm National Cable Communications has steadily increased its use of promotions to
lure new clients and to lift spending by existing ones.
E.B. Moss, who joined NCC as director of sales promotions
in August 1997 from Lifetime Television (where she was director of local ad sales), said
NCC's efforts to expand beyond "the spots and dots" -- as she described
traditional time buys -- resulted in nine custom promotions that reached 30 markets all
Of those nine promotions, Moss said, the one that paired
Ikea Systems B.V. with Discovery Channel earlier this spring was the biggest that NCC has
developed thus far. Ikea spent more than $3 million in eight key markets on that
"Improve Your World" promotion.
NCC -- which has seen its promotions staff grow from one
(Moss) to three -- is now awaiting decisions from one-dozen clients regarding additional
In the meantime, the rep is developing an upcoming
promotion involving Chi-Chi's Inc. and Comedy Central, and another with an unidentified
bread company, which ran a successful first quarter tie-in with Cartoon Network that
targeted the Midwest.
"Ikea wanted an association with a targeted network
and a cause-related overlay," Moss said, so she took the concept to Discovery, which
linked it to its Home Matters series. As the pro-social element, NCC brought in
CTECH-affiliated (Campaign to End Childhood Hunger) community shelters and food banks, she
Besides a sweepstakes in which each Ikea store awarded
Discovery merchandise and a $1,000 Ikea gift certificate, the retailer made a donation to
CTECH in each winner's name, she noted. Moreover, during the April contest, each store
featured coin-collection cans for the charity, which brought in $2,000 in donations.
The home-furnishings chain has 12 stores in those eight
DMAs, which include such interconnect markets as Los Angeles, Philadelphia, New York,
Chicago, Detroit and Washington, D.C. -- with NCC operating the interconnects in the
latter three markets.
In New York, the buy encompassed the New York Interconnect
and Time Warner CityCable, which pulled out of that entity more than a year ago.
In addition, Ikea bought entire DMAs in noninterconnect
markets Baltimore, Pittsburgh and Houston, Moss said.
It's too soon to know whether Ikea will return with another
promotion next year. But in a prepared statement, vice president and broadcast director
Cynthia Seebeck at Deutsch Inc., Ikea's ad agency, expressed enthusiasm for "this
partnership with NCC and Discovery [that gave] Ikea the opportunity for a cross-channel,
TV-based, traffic-building promotion [while also] providing the local community with a
Besides Ikea-tagged cross-channel spots, the promotion was
plugged via cobranded Ikea/Discovery/CTECH in-store displays and cover snippets on 1
million Ikea direct-mail catalogs. The promo spots alone were worth more than $500,000 in
exposure, Moss estimated.
Another promotion, linking Blaster Learning System with
Discovery Kids last fall, won an award at the Cabletelevision Advertising Bureau's recent
Local Cable Sales Management Conference.
Blaster, which markets "Math Blaster" and other
educational software for children, was planning a campaign that didn't involve spot cable
until NCC pitched the Discovery Kids tie-in, Moss said.
"Take Off with Blaster" involved a sweepstakes
(with a trip to the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., and a shopping spree at
Discovery Channel's flagship store there) supported by cross-channel spots and
point-of-sale displays in 11 Discovery Channel Stores in Chicago and Los Angeles.
Moreover, each store gave away free Blaster CD-ROMs (a $30
value) to the first 100 customers spending $75 or more. The store clerks databased each of
those consumers and gave the lists to Blaster for follow-ups, Moss added.
As another success story, Moss cited a Hyundai Motor Co.
auto dealership in Richmond, Va., which was drawn into spot cable with a Black
Entertainment Television tie-in last year, and which was sold on spot cable this year
without a promotional overlay. The dealer doubled its spot spending in the process, she
Because the dealer wanted to use a trip (to the Newport
Jazz Festival) to spark urban showroom traffic, Moss suggested BET as the most appropriate
partner. That co-branded effort, pegged to "Black History Month," ran last year
on all three Richmond-area systems (owned by MediaOne Group Inc., Comcast Corp. and
"These are win-win [promotions]," Moss observed.
"That's a cliché, I know, but it's true." They generate new or increased ad
revenue, while helping to reduce client churn and benefiting the client through cobranding
with a major cable network, she added.