Cox Communications Announces Alliance With Universal McCann to Explore New Advertising Platforms
Collaborative Initiative Provides the First Opportunity for UM Advertisers to Benefit from Video On Demand Technology
ATLANTA, Jul 18, 2002 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Cox Communications, Inc. (NYSE: COX) today announced a collaborative alliance with Universal McCann (UM), the media planning and buying arm of McCann-Erickson WorldGroup, one of the world's largest advertising and marketing communications companies, to bring unique cable television advertising opportunities to Cox communities.
The alliance between Cox and UM represents the first formal relationship of its kind between a cable multiple system operator (MSO) and a major advertising agency. This initiative will explore new advertising platforms appropriate for the broadband-enabled digital video realm. "Clearly, we are at a crossroads in the history of advertising supported television. Cox is proud to be a part of this unique effort to test new platforms for television advertising," said Billy Farina, Vice President of Advertising Sales for CableRep Advertising, the advertising arm of Cox Communications.
As Cox continues to develop and deploy new services supported by advanced technology platforms, exciting new avenues are evolving for advertisers. The first such opportunity and the first focus of the collaboration with UM is Cox's forthcoming FreeZone service in San Diego, California where digital cable subscribers will have access to an advertising-supported video on demand channel - the FreeZone.
Launching in August, FreeZone will feature long format advertising (LFA) and other advertising-supported information and entertainment content such as sports programming. FreeZone will give Cox customers the opportunity to be entertained and to get more information about a product of interest to them than they would be able to glean from a traditional commercial. All Cox Digital Cable customers in the San Diego area will have access to this service at no additional cost. Among the UM clients confirmed to participate in the FreeZone at the time of launch are Coca-Cola and Epic Records, a division of Sony Music Entertainment Inc.
"Cox is excited about the launch of FreeZone and its benefits for all advertising stakeholders. Cox has the opportunity to diversify the sources of its advertising revenue. Advertisers can get their messages across in a new highly measurable way. And, customers can view on-demand advertising supported entertainment or information that is of interest to them," said Farina. "Advertisers and those who advise them are looking for new and innovative ways to get their messages across. We are proud to pioneer advertising models in the VOD space and in other new media that speak directly to this need."
The collaborative alliance was initially conceived by UM Futures, the Universal McCann unit that focuses on the evolving digital television landscape. In order to develop shared-learning experiments in the interactive television frontier, Mitch Oscar, senior vice president-director of UM Futures, created a "peer to peer group" bringing together senior representatives from various UM units (research modeling, and media planning and buying, including the online area) as well as from other McCann-Erickson WorldGroup companies, such as FutureBrand and MRM Partners Worldwide. "Our collaborative alliance with Cox provides UM and its clients with a living laboratory that will enable us to glean valuable insight into consumer reaction to the evolving on demand and interactive television universe, while developing and testing new models for advertiser supported home entertainment," said Oscar.
About Cox Communications
Cox Communications (NYSE: COX), a Fortune 500 company, is a multi-service broadband communications company serving approximately 6.3 million customers nationwide. Cox is the nation's fifth-largest cable television provider, and offers both traditional analog video programming under the Cox Cable brand as well as advanced digital video programming under the Cox Digital Cable brand. Cox provides an array of other communications and entertainment services, including local and long distance telephone under the Cox Digital Telephone brand; high-speed Internet access under the brands Cox High Speed Internet and Cox Express; and commercial voice and data services via Cox Business Services. Cox is an investor in programming networks including Discovery Channel. More information about Cox Communications can be accessed on the Internet at www.cox.com.
About Universal McCann
Universal McCann, with global billings of $17.9 billion, is one of the world's largest media service firms. Universal McCann is part of McCann-Erickson WorldGroup.
CONTACT: Cox Communications Laura Oberhelman, 404/269-7562