'TCI CONNECTION' GIVES AT&T NEW WAY TO REACH CONSUMERS

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When AT&T Corp. purchased Tele-Communications Inc. in March, the deal trumpeted the belief that its future lies in wires and instant connections. TCI, though, had a marketing tool that used good old-fashioned snail mail. AT&T inherited The TCI Connection, a monthly newsletter included in the billing statements of TCI's 10 million customers.

In April 1998, before the AT&T deal, TCI's Doug Seserman, now senior VP-marketing for Broadband & Internet Services at AT&T, launched a cooperative direct marketing program within the newsletter's pages with clients such as Dollar Rent A Car, Nickelodeon and J.C. Penney Co. Those marketers and others place coupons, discount offers and sweepstakes entries on a dedicated page in each TCI Connection.

"The vehicle itself is sort of a marriage of direct mail and People magazine," Mr. Seserman said.

Response rates overall are good and in some cases have exceeded expectations. Penney's coupon offer for eyeglasses appeared in the April newsletter and accounted for 24% of all responses for the offer; coupons also appeared in newspapers, magazines, inserts and other forms of direct mail. Dollar Rent A Car traced $26,000 in car rental revenue for the month of May directly to its coupon in The TCI Connection.

Mr. Seserman is confident the AT&T connection will alert other marketers to the program, as well as help build awareness for other AT&T divisions, such as AT&T Worldnet, that will be able to advertise in The TCI Connection.

The transformation of TCI branded products into AT&T brands already has begun in other parts of the company. The newsletter will bear the AT&T name by September,

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