Bell puts 15m into cable push

Bell Cablemedia is trebling its marketing budget for 1996 to 15m and has drawn up an agency shortlist for a 2m branding campaign.

Bell, the UK’s third-largest operator, is to sell cable TV in the high street next year through Granada TV rental stores, as part of an aggressive marketing drive.

Three agencies are pitching for the campaign – Rodney Fitch, Bean MC and Davis Little Cowley – and an appointment will be made in January.

Bell is the first cable company to conduct a standalone campaign. The industry is funding a 12m generic push, planned for the spring, through J Walter Thompson.

Market leader TeleWest already sells its services through a variety of outlets – a route Bell is also looking to explore. Director of marketing Ruth Blakemore, who was poached from Virgin Atlantic in July, is considering sales through the Post Office or in department stores and supermarkets. An advantage would be the ability to reach a wider market including older people and business people.

Blakemore is emphatic that the way cable is sold must change. “Historically, customers have been force-fed ten or 20 channels,” she says. She believes a more flexible approach is necessary to increase take-up.

The latest figures from the Independent Television Commission show 1.15 million homes are connected to cable – only one in five of the 5.56 million passed. However, Bell’s own research shows a 40 per cent take-up of cable from some direct-sales approaches.

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