Turtles That Win the Race

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The Slowskys, the turtle characters featured in Comcast Corp. ads across the country, might do everything slowly, but they were quick to gain popularity among consumers.

That was not a surprise to Comcast. In pre-tests with focus groups, the campaign proved to be the highest-scoring such effort the Philadelphia-based MSO has ever planned, according to senior vice president of sales and marketing Marvin Davis.

Most importantly, the spots scored highest at communicating their two specific messages: that cable modems are faster than digital-subscriber line service; and that DSL speeds slow down the further the user is from a telephone company’s central office, while Comcast’s service is fast no matter where the subscriber may be. That latter message is very hard to communicate, cable executives have said.

The spots feature a couple — Bill and Karolyn Slowsky, a pair of turtles (they’re actually puppets) — pictured in their late ’70s-looking tract home. The pair express their devotion to DSL because to them, cable-modem service is just too fast.

The spots are part of the larger “Comcastic” brand advertising effort that began last October. The campaign was designed and executed by Comcast’s agency, Goodby, Silverstein & Partners of San Francisco. Not only did the agency design the ads, but also the spots are tagged with a Web address, theslowskys.com.

The Web site — a new strategy in support of the on-air campaign — gives consumers a chance to “further interact with the message,” Davis said.

The Internet site’s opening page is designed to look like an embroidery sampler. Once entered, the rest of the site includes content like Bill’s collection of speed bump photos and Karolyn’s blog, which is updated frequently. Odd, entertaining links are included, such as one to an elephant sanctuary in Tennessee and to an artist who works in paper. The purpose is to repeat the campaign message — DSL is slow — rather than sell new product, although there is a small link to Comcast’s product Web site at the bottom of the home page.

Comcast drove traffic to the Web site with banner ads on news sites such as CNN.com, as well as entertainment sites and search engines such as Google and Yahoo. Click-through rates for the banner ads exceeded all previous Web-based campaigns, Davis said.

He would not disclose page-view data for the site, but said users are a mix of one-time viewers and repeat users. The site is designed to also reinforce current cable-modem subscribers’ purchase decision, he added.

Site visitors are interacting with the characters by leaving responses to Karolyn’s blog, for example. One visitor went so far as to chide the imaginary character for her blog comments on her species’ evolution and suggested Karolyn read a Christian title on the subject.

Davis said the site is being constantly refreshed. “If you want to hold interest, there has to be something new,” he said.

The Slowskys show no sign of diminishing in popularity, so there are no plans for retiring the characters, according to the company. But their spots won’t be the only ones running or featuring a companion Web site.

The latest spot in the Comcastic campaign promotes high-speed Internet and video-on-demand services. It features Mr. T trying to assist a clueless contestant on a trivia game show. That spot will be supported with the Web site www.culturefool.com.

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