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Marketing

‘Charter Center Stage’ Promo Hits High Speed

9/05/2011 12:01 AM Eastern

For the back-to-school season, Charter
Communications is putting its high-speed data service on
center stage.

The “Charter Center Stage” campaign orbits around an online
battle of the bands that will net the winner a slot opening
for Panic! At the Disco at an outdoor concert and an attendant
consumer sweepstakes for voters.

It’s meant to showcase the company’s digital capabilities
as it looks to build its high-speed data subscriber base during
Charter.com’s key selling season.

The campaign’s offer:
Charter Internet, starting
at $19.99 per month,
plus a cloud drive free for
three months.

BANDS ON BOARD

Beginning in July, Charter
extended multimedia
invitations to bands
online, through social
media and campuses
in Charter’s service areas
around the nation to
upload videos to charter.com/concert or facebook.com/chartercom.

Those efforts yielded
316 entries through the Aug. 24 deadline in Charter’s 11 service
areas. Through different rounds of online fan voting, the
bands are vying for a chance to open for Panic! At the Disco,
along with Fitz & The Tantrums and the Plain White Ts, at an
Oct. 15 free concert at Alliant Energy Center on Willow Island
in Madison, Wisc., and a prize package valued at $25,000.

Charter vice president of national sales Robert Ladd said the
campaign, which emanated from the digital unit, is the MSO’s
largest online campaign to date, with marketing and in-kind
value reaching into the seven figures.

“We wanted to do something that demonstrated our highspeed
services during the back-to-school period, which represents
the biggest uptick for us seasonally with this service. This
campaign is the perfect way to showcase [Charter Internet] to
students,” Ladd said, adding there are more than 200 universities
and colleges within the MSO’s footprint. “They share music
and video and are actively engaged in social networking. This
is the mobile world these young consumers live in.”

That world is where information about the campaign and
buzz about the concert needs to be disseminated, he said.

“This is viral in nature. Groups have and will encourage
their fans to vote,” Ladd said. “We’ve seen our [friends] at
facebook.com/chartercom grow 20% since we launched Charter
Center Stage in mid-
July. There have been
plenty of responses like,
‘Check out this cool contest
Charter has. We need
you to go to this address.’ ”

Voting for 11 finalists
— one from each Charter
territory — concluded
Sept. 4. Final voting
will take place between
Sept.18-25, with the winner
announced the following
day. The 10 other
finalists will receive a
$2,500 gift card.

Charter will also reward
some of the fans
who voted for their favorite band. Every voter with a Charter
serviceable address was entered into the sweepstakes for
a chance to win prizes that include a trip to the concert, tablet
computers, HDTVs and game consoles. Voters are also eligible
to win a free year of Charter services, including Charter
Internet, TV and phone service. Music enthusiasts registered
to vote to select finalists at charter.com/concert until Sept. 3.

Although rooted in its online arena, Ladd said the campaign,
which is being supported by banner ads and videos on
charter.com, as well as print and out-of-home tactics, has become
cross-functional for the MSO as Charter marketing, media
and business disciplines are also participating in the event.

Key clients will be extended VIP packages and the operator
will have a major presence at the concert.

CHARTER ESCORTS TO VENUE

Charter marketing director Angie Thomas said planning for
the campaign began seven months ago, with the MSO retaining
an event marketing group to serve as a liaison between the
agents and managers of the bands. Charter also assigned team
members to handle the various questions articulated by the
bands submitting their videos, with those staffers conversing
with and e-mailing the musicians regularly.

As Willow Island is indeed an island, Charter is running various
services to the venue. Charter will house three tents with
kiosks where concert-goers can experience Charter Internet
and its speed first-hand.

A heated VIP tent will accommodate 150 people, including
the sweepstakes winners and others. Those guests can meet
the artists, participate in contests and chow down on some of
the foods — cheese and brats — Wisconsin is noted for.

The concert starts at 3:30 p.m., rain or shine, following the
Wisconsin Badgers (Charter is the video provider on campus,
with the university offering its own Internet and phone) hosting
the Indiana Hoosiers in a Big Ten football game at nearby
Camp Randall Stadium, where Charter supplies triple-play
services. Thomas said students that bike to the show will have
a valet area to park their rides, with Charter providing shuttle
buses throughout the concert.

As Ladd said: “Our goal was to make this much larger than
just being an online, virtual battle of the bands. We wanted
Charter Center Stage to be experiential. This is a great
showcase for our high-speed product and it’s going to be
a great concert.”

September