Time Warner Cable Marketing Chief Sam Howe Departs Company

Exec Oversaw Campaign Aimed at Combating Cord-Cutting

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Sam Howe, the executive who supervised a rebranding effort aimed at casting Time Warner Cable as a technology-services company in the face of challenges facing its mainstay cable-subscription business, has departed the company.

Time Warner Cable said Jeffrey Hirsch was named its new exec VP-chief marketing officer, residential services. Mr. Hirsch replaces Mr. Howe, a longtime Time Warner Cable executive who had held the title since 2005 and left the company on Friday.

Sam Howe
Sam Howe

Mr. Howe developed a new corporate logo and brand direction for Time Warner Cable, with WPP's Ogilvy serving as creative agency. With cord-cutting -- subscribers canceling their cable subscriptions but keeping their broadband internet -- becoming a measurable problem for the company among basic-video customers during the recession, the idea was to craft an image that burnished some of Time Warner Cable's other services for customers.

"We think this brand gets you back into that space of not wanting to cut the cord, or at least assists you into time-shifting if you didn't think you could before," Mr. Howe told Ad Age last fall of the new campaign. "We're a platform company, not a bundle company, and the number of customer relationships has stayed quite strong."

And yet, traditional subscriber churn has continued, although sales of subscriptions to new technology has increased. In the first quarter of 2011, Time Warner Cable added 189,000 high-speed data subscribers and 84,000 digital phone subscribers but lost 65,000 video subscribers.

A Time Warner Cable spokesman had no additional comment regarding Mr. Howe's departure.

Mr. Hirsch has held various roles with Time Warner Cable since 1999, acting as president-residential services for the company's New York City region, Los Angeles Metro division and Rochester, N.Y., division at different times over eight years. Most recently, he helped launch Time Warner Cable's iPad app.

"Jeff is an exceptionally versatile and gifted executive with a unique understanding of our products and customers," Robert Marcus, Time Warner Cable's president-chief operating officer, said in a statement. "His strong marketing background and proven track record in operating cable systems make him an excellent choice to lead our marketing initiatives in a new era of more intense competition and product differentiation."

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