Broadband Cable Association of Pennsylvania


September 6, 2012

After pouring money into network upgrades to improve its service, Cablevision Systems Corp. is kicking off a marketing campaign to burnish its image with commercials that acknowledge customer frustration with technology.

In a series of television, billboard, print and online ads, Cablevision aims to lift consumer perceptions of its Optimum brand, which the company feels has been too associated with discounts and promotions. The ad campaign reflects the influence of Kristin Dolan, wife of Cablevision Chief Executive James Dolan. Ms. Dolan was promoted last November to be senior executive vice president of product management and marketing.

A Cablevision veteran even before marrying Mr. Dolan, Ms. Dolan had voiced discontent with the company's previous marketing approach, which had largely involved offering discounts to attract new customers and creating attack ads against rivals. "We are reinventing the company and the way we deliver our products and services to people," Ms. Dolan said in an interview. She said the campaign wasn't "just sugarcoating" but followed an investment to improve service such as broadband speeds. A Federal Communications Commission study this year showed that Cablevision's broadband speeds had improved significantly. The agency's study last year had suggested Cablevision's broadband performance lagged behind that of rivals.

In the new TV ads, the cable operator pokes fun at itself as a company that people just don't want to think about. In one TV ad, for instance, a toilet overflows, a child gets himself stuck in the mail slot, and a man can't figure out how to turn on a barbecue grill. "Nothing can test your patience like technology. It can be hit or miss," one ad says. Cablevision has "technology you won't spend too much time thinking about, because you have something more important to think about: everything else." "People hate telecommunications, it's not just us," acknowledged Ms. Dolan. "Can you really get to a place where people love you? The jury's still out on that, but we can get to a place where people like us." She added that a major focus of the campaign was "reminding people why they made the right decision," which is "equally if not more important" than pursuing new customers.

The company declined to say how much it was spending on this campaign, though it said the effort is part of about $100 million it is spending on marketing this year. Ms. Dolan has gained wider influence throughout the company in the wake of several executive departures from the Bethpage, N.Y., cable operator, including that of top operating executive Tom Rutledge, who left to become chief executive of Charter Communications Inc. at the end of last year. Cablevision is the fifth-largest cable operator in the U.S., with more than three million subscribers. Earlier this year, Dish Network Corp. launched its largest national marketing campaign for a new DVR dubbed the "Hopper." More recently, Comcast Corp. launched a new campaign to renew its two-year-old Xfinity brand. Wall Street Journal