Comcast Pushes for Spot, Recasts Image

Feb 2, 2004  •  Post A Comment

Comcast Corp., the nation’s biggest cable operator, is looking to shine a spotlight on its advertising sales division.
In fact it’s renaming the unit Comcast Spotlight. And it’s making a bold promise. While admitting spot cable let down customers in the past, Comcast Spotlight insists it now represents “cable’s promise fulfilled.”
The rebranding is a big deal for Comcast, which wants to double its spot advertising revenues to $2 billion by 2007. It’s such a big deal that, according to Vicki Lins, VP of marketing and communications, Comcast founder Ralph Roberts was involved in designing the new logo. Ms. Lins said Mr. Roberts narrowed the list of candidates, then chose the final two. “He played with the size and the shape of the font. He played with the color. He played with the design,” she said.
Mr. Roberts, who started in the advertising business and drew Comcast’s first logo on his kitchen table, “understands the need for a current look and how important it is for the company icon to be reflective of what the company stands for,” Ms. Lins said.
The Spotlight moniker replaces about a dozen different names Comcast inherited as it bought other cable operators. Among the names being retired are AT&T Media Services, CAMA, Marketlink and the Boston Interconnect.
“Clearly, it was important for us to try to create one unified identity in the minds of our customers,” Ms. Lins said. The goal of the process was to find a name “that was going to make a statement and that would signify change.”
The new name admittedly is something of a play on words with the incorporation of the term “spot.” But Ms. Lins said Comcast wanted to make a stronger statement by embracing the word and trying to give it a more positive connotation.
“What the research told us very strongly was that spot cable has promised an awful lot over the years and not delivered on all of those promises,” she said. “We made a very conscious decision to claim it and to work very hard to redefine it rather than to run away from it.”
The name change is backed by operational changes Comcast has made in the past and will be bolstered by more changes in the future, Ms. Lins said.
Since acquiring AT&T Broadband, Comcast has been interconnecting its market, giving buyers the ability to buy an almost broadcast market-size footprint with a single phone call. Comcast hooked up more than 30 interconnects last year, and now 55 of the 72 markets it serves have interconnects.
“We’ve also really focused internally on putting systems and processes in place and building out our infrastructure so that we have a solid platform in place on which to build new advertising opportunities,” Ms. Lins said.
Comcast Spotlight is rolling out new tools that allow advertisers to reach more specific slices of a market. One product, Ad Tag, puts localized five-second tags on the end of spots. Another, Ad Copy, allows an advertiser to run different ads simultaneously in different parts of a market. Comcast Spotlight is rolling out Ad Tag and Ad Copy in Chicago and Detroit and plans to introduce them in 10 more markets this year.
Comcast is backing the name change with a national ad campaign that breaks this week. The first ads will focus on the new name and logo and carry the tagline “Spot cable finally delivers.” After that, the campaign focuses on how spot cable has changed.
Those ads feature leading media buyers, including Lisa Seward of Fallon Worldwide, Jim Porcarelli of Mediacom and Greg Clausen of Cramer-Krasselt. Comcast will send out direct mail and run TV spots in all of its 72 markets designed to solicit spot advertisers.
The new name and logo will also get a push internally. Top Comcast executives are sending e-mails to staffers about Spotlight, local offices are getting Party in a Box kits and informational videos are being distributed.
The company has also redone its sales materials, including PowerPoint presentations.