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Big Picture Does Boffo Box Office

10/03/1999 8:00 PM Eastern

Time Warner Cable customers in Southern California recently
got "The Big Picture" and they responded with the cable equivalent of big box
office.

The Big Picture is the branding campaign Time Warner ran in
the region this quarter, which emphasized the global nature and reach of its parent
company, Time Warner Inc.

Local executives reported that the response rate was 67
percent better than the average from previous branding campaigns.

While Time Warner will not release actual sales numbers,
executives said they were very pleased with the response to the campaign. Also, they
believe the consumer benefits included in the campaign will have a demonstrable effect on
the systems' annual customer-satisfaction surveys, which are now under way.

More than 600,000 cable and noncable homes in Los Angeles
and Orange counties got a full-color, magazine-type mailer bearing the title of the
campaign.

Marketing executives assessed their competitive market and,
like most operators, observed DirecTV Inc. as a strong foe. But another technology --
wireless cable provided by Tele-TV, formerly a Pacific Bell product and now owned by Prime
Communications -- also cuts into Time Warner's market.

"With this competition, we're increasing the focus on
what differentiates us. So we decided to draw a picture of the greatest global
entertainment entity in the world," said Dawn Callahan, senior marketing manager for
the region.

The magazine mailer stressed that the company is not just a
cable division, but it is allied with some of the biggest brands in multimedia: Warner
Bros. Studios and its stores; People magazine; book publisher Little, Brown and
Co.; and Major League Baseball's Atlanta Braves.

The piece demonstrated the benefit of synergy with these
divisions, "without coming right out and saying, 'Ha, ha, we're better than satellite
systems,'" Callahan joked.

The magazine offered rewards to current consumers.
Carefully read, it provided instructions for benefits such as a discount for a one-year
subscription to People or an opportunity for a free viewing of Warner Bros. release
You've Got Mail on its premiere day on pay-per-view.

Almost as an afterthought, the region turned the campaign
into a nonsubscriber-acquisition piece.

Noncable homes were teased with an offer of installation on
up to four sets for $9.95. Further, if they agreed to sign up for Home Box Office (another
Time Warner brand), they were rewarded with free Cinemax for six months.

Collateral events -- such as a Big Picture party at Warner
Bros. Stores at three regional malls -- were big hits. For one day, all consumers had to
do was present the branding mailer, or their Time Warner bills, and 20 percent was knocked
off all of their purchases.

"On the day [in June] of the parties, the malls were
dead, but our stores were jammed," Callahan said.

Perhaps the biggest draw was a sweepstakes that was
included in the campaign.

Again, a thorough read of the mailer provided answers to
Time Warner quiz questions such as the local Web address of high-speed-data service Road
Runner or the age of People.

Those who correctly answered a handful of questions
qualified for the grand prize Big Picture tour, which began Sept. 24 for the winners.
Elements of the trip included local trips to Warner Bros. Studios for VIP tours, dinner at
Spago and attendance at the premiere of Warner Bros.' latest Oscar-buzzing release, Three
Kings
.

Then customers were flown to New York for a studio-store
shopping spree, a Broadway play and a People visit. The week ended in Atlanta with
tours of Turner Cable properties and a Braves game viewed from Time Warner vice chairman
Ted Turner's box seats.

The magazine "was a big hit. It spoke to people on a
number of levels," Callahan concluded.

 

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