Charter Communications Selects Saatchi New York as Consumer Agency

Move Comes Amid M&A Talks for the Cable Operator

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Charter Communications has chosen Saatchi & Saatchi New York as its lead consumer agency.

The cable operator, the fourth largest in the U.S., selected Saatchi following the move of its headquarters to Stamford, Conn., from St. Louis, MO.

Charter has previously worked with Saatchi's sibling agency, Fallon, on a project by project basis. The relationship started in 2009, and the agency worked on Charter's "Battle Royal" campaign in 2012, but the two are not currently working together.

Dallas-based independent agency The Richards Group is not impacted by Saatchi's addition to the roster. Richards will continue to handle advertising for Charter Business, the cable operator's commercial business unit.

Charter's focus is growing share with its Triple Play product, improved network and customer operations, and our focus on product innovation, a spokeswoman for the company said.

"The agency move reflects our decision to work with an agency in the NY DMA," she said. "We can confirm that we have worked with Fallon, Richards and others, but selected Saatchi based on a process and decision to have a local agency."

Like most other pay-TV providers, Charter continues to shed residential video customers, losing 48,000 in its most recent quarter, a bigger loss than the 36,000-customer drop that analysts surveyed by Bloomberg had predicted. To stymie the decline in residential video revenue, Charter increased rates last year. It's also been increasing its marketing spend.

Charter devoted nearly $60 million to measured media in 2012, with about $36 million of that going to spot TV, according to Kantar Media. That's up from the $46.7 million it spent in 2011.

Charter has been at the center of M&A talks, with its largest shareholder, Liberty Media, pushing a merger with Time Warner Cable or Cox Communications, according to industry reports. Charter's CEO Tom Rutledge has previously stated that he expects the cable industry will eventually boil down to two major players and that being bigger would give companies leverage in controlling programming costs and invest in new technologies.

At Saatchi's New York office, Charter joins a roster of clients that includes Kraft, General Mills, Toyota and Procter & Gamble. The agency is owned by Paris-based Publicis Groupe, which plans to merge with Omnicom Group.

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