INTEGRATED: MARKETING CHALLENGE; Why JWT urged the cable industry to speak with one voice

The cable industry lacked a public image, was very confusing and needed to change, Meg Carter says

The cable industry lacked a public image, was very confusing and needed

to change, Meg Carter says

It seemed an impossible brief - create a brand from scratch for three

products in one; television, telephony and new media. But nothing about

the cable industry has ever been straightforward.

The industry is large and fragmented, comprising around a dozen players

whose recent history is coloured by disagreement and rivalry. Having

invested pounds 5.5 billion in building the UK’s cable infrastructure,

but with cable penetration rates lower than some in the City had hoped,

a concerted marketing strategy was overdue.

The solution was ‘get connected’ - an integrated campaign designed both

to launch a generic corporate identity and educate a misinformed and

ignorant public.

The industry’s trade body, the Cable Communications Association, first

drafted plans for a generic campaign in January 1995.

Almost all of the main cable operators agreed to contribute money

according to their respective size, based on subscriber numbers.

J. Walter Thompson won the pounds 12 million account last summer.

An integrated approach was a prerequisite, Stephen Carter, the managing

director of JWT, says. The campaign had to work on many levels. It had a

number of different aims: to launch a generic brand identity, to

reposition the industry and raise awareness, to inform and educate. And

it had to be aimed at the cable companies’ employees as well as


‘The process started, rightly, with a debate on positioning,’ Carter

comments. ‘Was cable about multi-channel TV, or cheap telephones, or was

it about badly laid infrastructure and damage to domestic property?’

Cable is a delivery mechanism, and should be positioned as such, they

decided. But what should it be called? A mythical name - like Sky -

which could distance the industry from the negatives associated with

digging holes in the ground? Or a neutral name, Orange for example,

which could engender its own new range of connotations and emotions?

JWT’s cable team worked closely with its WPP sister company, Sampson

Tyrell, the design and corporate identity specialist. They agreed that

the overriding principle should be clarity and context.

‘The simple descriptor Cable was the right name,’ Carter explains. There

was already enough confusion among consumers. Qualitative research

revealed deep-seated ignorance and confusion, even among cable

subscribers. Many did not understand the difference between cable and

satellite delivery. Others did not know that cable telephone services

connect with BT’s network.

Sampson Tyrell created a corporate identity based on interlocking

shapes, chosen for simplicity rather than as a cryptic visual reference

to ‘connectivity’. The design would be used across all generic

advertising and marketing materials as well as in all participating

companies’ communications, so had to fit neatly alongside existing

corporate logos. ‘The idea was to use it as a stamp of endorsement,

rather like the Visa or Mastercard sign,’ the CCA marketing director,

Mike Hayes, says.

Meanwhile, JWT developed a range of above- and below-the-line

initiatives to launch the new look. The comedienne, Dawn French, was

chosen to front a series of TV ads: 60-second executions focused on

cable as the single connection needed for every educational,

entertainment and information need. Others focused on specific product

benefits, such as cable telephone lines, multi-channel viewing choice

and new media.

Poster and press work did not feature French, but did continue the ‘get

connected’ theme. These ads contained more specific product detail -

offering not just hard facts but context and reassurance. Radio

commercials were used in a similar way, although the use of local

stations enabled individual cable operators to insert their own, local,

telephone number at the end of each ad.

Rebranding extended to all promotional material - such as the

information packs and sales literature used by local cable companies,

even merchandise such as baseball hats, T-shirts and badges. The aim: to

create a united profile at the same time as imparting specific product

and local company information.

A direct response mechanism was also worked into the campaign.

Meanwhile, the CCA’s embryonic Internet site was redesigned.

The finished campaign and corporate identity was introduced to local

cable operators and their employees at 100 industry presentations during

March. An industry party followed. The first advertising broke on 29

March and subsequent activities are enjoying a phased roll-out, through

the line.

Joint promotions with the Daily Mirror and the Daily Telegraph broke in

recent weeks. The cable logo was also displayed prominently in the TV

listings page of the Independent. Further waves will follow in coming

months through joint initiatives with programme providers and local

campaigns. A co-promotion with the film channel, TNT, breaks this month

with two posters promoting TNT films and featuring the ‘get connected’


Initial responses from the industry are positive. For such a complex

brief, the tone of voice remains consistent across a broad range of

materials and, for the first time, the cable industry has been

positioned as a single whole.

However, its long-term effectiveness is by no means guaranteed. Success

will depend on whether individual companies can meet consumers’ raised

expectations and whether they can continue to co-operate and put past

internecine grievances aside.

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