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Samsung, CTAM Combine Efforts To Promote HD

Samsung and the Cable & Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM) announced here on March 15 the launch of a joint promotion bringing together Samsung digital televisions and the high-definition cable services of eight prominent multi-system operators (MSOs).

The joint “eight-figure” advertising and promotional effort will help to expand awareness of high-definition television in general, the HDTV products of Samsung and the programming services of the cable MSOs specifically, during the “March Madness” NCAA basketball tournament.

The CTAM organization, which works with the cable industry to market and promote cable services around the country, selected Samsung from a number of television manufacturers in “a request for proposals process.” The selection was based, in part, on Samsung’s status as one of the first companies to market a fully integrated HDTV set in 1998, and its market leading position in “premium priced” [$3,000 and up] high-definition projection TVs, said Seth Morrision, CTAM marketing senior VP.

Due to the timing of the promotion, and the fact that Samsung will launch its uni-directional CableCARD-enabled HDTV sets later this spring and fall, the promotion will focus most on HDTV monitors that can connect with a proprietary HD cable set-top box from one of CTAM’s member MSOs.

The eight cable companies, which agreed to join the effort, were brought on board with Samsung’s recent recruitment efforts. They are said to represent 95 percent of cable subscribers in the United States. Participating MSOs include the following: Adelphia Cable Communications, Bright House Networks, Charter Communications, Comcast Cable Communications, Cox Communications, Insight Communications, Mediacom Communications, and Time Warner Cable.

From the cable perspective, consumers will be made aware first and foremost of the value of local broadcast HDTV, said Andy Addis, Comcast marketing senior VP, who is helping to coordinate the joint effort. He explained that cable’s chief advantage over rival satellite TV operators is its ability to deliver all of the local digital terrestrial broadcast stations available in a market.

Cable operators today typically offer between 10 and 12 HDTV channels, and eliminate problems associated with the “spotty at best” reception encountered in many areas when trying to tune in HDTV stations from over-the-air sources, Addis said.

Due to bandwidth constraints, satellite providers currently don’t have ability to carry local HDTV channels. Additionally, Addis said that local affiliate stations of major television networks deliver the bulk of the most compelling HDTV programming available.

Samsung is calling the effort “the Coming Of Age” of high-definition TV. Through the program, the company will send a team of detailers to 65 percent of its retail storefronts over the next 30 days to educate and motivate sales people to sell Samsung HDTVs in a package with local cable HDTV services. Other point-of-purchase promotions will also be employed at retail.

Samsung provides a HDTV educational Web site to help consumers become familiar with the terms and issues in purchasing HDTVs and will offer them up to $100 in cable gift certificates for the purchase of any Samsung HDTV. Purchasers must add or maintain a current HDTV cable program following the purchase. The offer is good, whether or not a retailer informs the consumer of the program at the point of sale. Gift certificates will be available online.

The campaign will encompass TV spots airing on cable, ads in national daily newspapers, a far-reaching online campaign and point-of-purchase initiatives at retail.

TV spots will be tagged with the names of the participating cable service in each market.

Peter Weedfald, Samsung strategic marketing senior VP, said the Internet portion of the advertising effort targets prominent positioning on some of the most popular Web sites with potential HDTV customers. The effort is expected to generate “millions upon millions of impressions,” he said.