NCTA: New Ad Campaign Due

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When it comes to marketing, cable operators continue to pursue their own campaigns, rather than team up for a national ad effort to pitch consumer products like pay TV, high-speed Internet access and phone service.

The Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing attempted to rally cable operators in 2003 with a national “Only Cable Can” ad campaign, which included spots on national cable networks, and joint marketing efforts with consumer-electronics companies like Sony Corp. and Samsung Electronics America Inc. to sell HDTVs and programming packages.

CTAM pulled the plug on the campaign last summer, saying the National Cable & Telecommunications Association would take over the cable industry’s cooperative marketing efforts.

Six months later, the NCTA hasn’t produced any commercials that tout cable, although it continues to back a “Control Your TV” ad campaign aimed at explaining how to use the parental control features on cable set-tops.

NCTA spokesman Brian Dietz said last week that the organization is developing a new marketing campaign for the cable industry.

But he declined to discuss when the spots would begin running or what they would say, or even whether the NCTA has hired an ad agency for the effort. “I’m not prepared to discuss any of the details about the campaign. We’ll be ready to make an announcement when it launches,” Dietz said.

CTAM, meanwhile, has replaced the “Only Cable Can” Web site with a less-demonstrative site called “This Is Cable” (www.thisiscable.com).

The newer site, which debuted in October, contains several articles that tout cable features, such as digital video recorders, video-on-demand programming, HDTV and digital telephone service. It also allows consumers to search for their local cable operator.

“We’re using this particular site to support our [public-relations] efforts,” CTAM CEO Char Beales said.

While CTAM mentioned the site in a couple of press releases it put out earlier this month at the Consumer Electronics Show, the group hasn’t marketed the site, which was ranked last week by Alexa.com at No. 221,742 among the most popular Web sites worldwide.

Some member companies, including networks, operators and tech vendors, are providing links to the site from their own sites.

CTAM officials said cable networks could use This Is Cable to direct consumers to local cable operators that carry their programming. Lifetime Television includes a link to This Is Cable as part of its campaign to restore distribution on EchoStar Communications Corp.’s Dish Network.

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