Cable Too Defensive, Says Ad Exec

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Cable operators are so defensive over competition from telephone and satellite TV companies that they risk destroying their image in consumers' minds, warns a top advertising executive.

June Blocklin, vice chairman of Young & Rubicam Brands, chastised cable marketing executives attending the CTAM convention in Boston for spending too much effort touting price and product features in their marketing without striking any emotional chord in consumers' lives. She pointed to Apple and Nike as examples of companies in largely commodity businesses that make a connection that cable operators completely miss.

Blocklin showed the crowd a montage of cable operators' advertising, which was generally shrill, including shouting about price discounts and bundles but very little other messaging.

"You've got to get beyond, 'Here's three or four services at this low, low price,'" Blocklin says. "That is a journey that ends in a very bad place. Thinking about the customer, thinking about what would make it more useful. Just small steps, that's a great, great thing."

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