Byline: Andrea Figler

There are at least 91 foreign languages spoken in Los Angeles County alone, according to the Los Angeles Unified School District. So Sheila Gilmore, as director of acquisitions for Time Warner Cable’s Los Angeles system, had her hands full when she set out to create television spots targeting foreign-language markets not only in Los Angeles but also throughout Southern California.

Luckily for Gilmore, she needed to look no further than the cable operator’s very own offices in Southern California.

Folks fluent in all of the area’s major languages were right at her fingertips. She surveyed them to define which programming she should highlight in her spots and also tapped them to be in the commercials themselves. The commercials make subscribers aware that Time Warner has channels available in many different languages, ranging from Spanish to Tagalog.

While the commercials are in English, each 30-second ad ends with an employee saying, “Because We Care,” in their respective tongue. And, even though only six language spots have aired to date, the campaign already has been well received.

The campaign has won Gilmore NAMIC’s 2002 Excellence Award for television spots by a cable operator, scheduled to be presented this week at the NAMIC awards ceremony in New York.

“I think they’re really good spots and they are helping build awareness that we offer relevant programming to the communities we serve,” Gilmore says.

In Time Warner’s service area, 34% of its homes passed are Hispanic, 4% speak Russian, 3% speak Chinese, 2% Japanese, 2% Tagalog and 2% Farsi.

The spots run between 2,000 and 2,500 times a month on its analog tier.

Aside from creating an awareness, these ads have helped increase subscribers to these foreign-language channels and packages, Gilmore says. While she could not confirm the numbers, even a slight gain will help bring the system some extra cash.

Pricing for these foreign-language channels varies. It costs $24.95 to access TV Japan by itself and $14.95 each to get TV Russia, TV Asia (Hindi/South Asian) and TAN (Korean). Under the $11.95 price tag comes ART (Arabic), Power TV & CCTV4 (Chinese) and Meli TV (Farsi), to name a few. A subscriber can also shell out $24.95 to get Zee TV and TV Asia as a package.

As for the Spanish speakers – the majority of Southern California’s minority population – a subscriber need only pay $3.95 to get a total of 17 Spanish-language channels. If they opt for premium programming, Time Warner Cable will throw in digital Spanish tiers from premium networks such as HBO, bringing the total to 67 channels on the Spanish tier.

While the channels vary widely in languages, the type of programming that each ethnicity is interested in is fairly consistent, Gilmore says.

Most groups want news, children’s shows and variety shows, she notes. So each spot includes snippets drawn from those programming genres. The Time Warner Cable employee on the commercial also explains that programming from each of these genres is available in the featured language.

Jim Honiotes, VP of marketing and communications for International Channel Networks, praises Gilmore’s efforts to make subscribers aware of this foreign-language product. It helps stave off competition, he feels, particularly from the direct broadcast satellite providers.

“Nobody’s really doing this kind of an effort that I’m aware of,” he says. “We think it’s a spectacular notion, one that is absolutely well conceived and will, in fact, help meet their subscriber goals.”

COPYRIGHT 2002 Copyright by Media Central Inc., A PRIMEDIA Company. All rights reserved.

COPYRIGHT 2003 Gale Group

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