NCC Media To Cramer-Krasselt: Juice Up Our Image

For the most part, trade campaigns aimed at generating more ad revenue aren't exactly Bill Bernbach quality. But it's worth attaching some level of brilliance to a gambit from a Comcast sales arm nearly a decade ago.

The conceit was simple: Campaigns have a target audience, so why not find a way to put the target in the ads? For Jim Porcarelli, that created an unexpected frisson. Back in 2002, a trip around Manhattan found him to be a steady presence on phone kiosks and street furniture. There was also a full-page appearance in Ad Age.

Comcast Spotlight, which sells spot cable, wanted to attract more dollars. Yet it believed it had to overcome the sort of second-class image spot cable held in the media-buying food chain.

Along with agency Cramer-Krasselt, it recruited a series of media executives -- the ones whose money it wanted -- to join the campaign as themselves.

From Porcarelli -- then CMO at MediaCom -- Cramer-Krasselt sought out amusing photos taken during the Ford, Carter and Reagan administrations. One executive offered himself in a blue tux with ruffles, and females showed off their "Flashdance"-style big hair.



In the ad featuring Porcarelli, he appeared with his date from a 1977 spring cotillion. He had a preppy look with slicked back hair, perfectly parted. "It was Don Draper," he said. The campaign's tagline: "You've changed a lot in the last 25 years, so has spot cable."

"That was an impressive campaign, it worked, it was part of the bona fides of Cramer," said Andrew Capone, a senior vice president at NCC Media.

Now, NCC's business is going through a transformation and the sales firm has retained Cramer-Krasselt for a two-step branding project. Can it outdo its 2002 self? The initiative involves spot cable, but much more. First, the agency will define a product, then promote it in a trade campaign in the spring.

For years, NCC has served as the rep firm for cable operators, delivering spot business from national and regional advertisers. The inventory runs in the couple of minutes an hour an operator owns on a cable network, such as ESPN or USA.

In 2007, the former National Cable Communications began adding inventory from Verizon FiOS in many markets. That gave it a chance to ramp up efforts to compete for dollars with local broadcast stations.

Media buyers had argued its reach in markets was limited as it served only the cable homes. Verizon gave it more scale. This year, that expands again within 25 of the largest markets. NCC will begin selling local spots for DirecTV on 25 cable networks.

In some markets, NCC will be able to offer advertisers a triple-play package, with reach into a patchwork of cable, FiOS and DirecTV homes. Coverage in a market could top 70%. "That's what the advertising agencies have been asking for and that's what we're going to deliver," Capone said.

First up, Cramer-Krasselt is creating a brand identity for the opportunity to buy the ads now including satellite homes, as well as cable and telco TV. "Triple-play" is already widely used by the cable industry for a different reason, so that's out as an ID. "Hyper-interconnect" is a concept with potential. An interconnect is an industry term for multiple cable operators pooling inventory in specific markets to make a buy easier.

Once NCC has a brand, it will plug it in trade magazines and other avenues. Capone said NCC has more than doubled its marketing budget this year, moving into the low seven figures. Capone would not release details about what Cramer-Krasselt has brainstormed on so far, but hinted the advertising would involve a broadcast broadside.

NCC had approximately $1.2 billion in 2010 revenues. Adding DirecTV - and maybe inventory from Dish Network and AT&T down the line -- could boost that largely. "If you do basic match in adding millions of satellite homes to our current footprint," Capone said. "Over the next few years, it could have a significant impact of eight or nine figures."

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