Time Warner kicks off ad campaigns for Road Runner

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In an effort to acquire new customers and retain existing ones, Time Warner's Road Runner Group is using two advertising agencies and two different campaigns for its high-speed cable modem service.

Cable operators in the 14 cities where Road Runner service is available can choose between "It's a Crime to Waste Time," created by Klein &, Los Angeles, and "You Don't Have to Take It Anymore," from Mad Dogs & Englishmen, New York.

"We're trying to offer our cable affiliates flexibility," said Bobby Benya, senior VP-marketing for Road Runner, a joint venture between Time Warner and Time Inc. "We're going to give them the option to choose, but they'll probably end up using both."


The Road Runner service, which was launched a year ago and costs between $40 and $50 a month, now claims 16,000 customers, although the service is available to 1 million households. By the end of the year, the company plans to double the number of potential customers, making the cable modem service available to 2 million homes. Time Warner has 12.4 million cable customers.

Both campaigns pick up on customer frustration with slow Internet service and long download times. Klein &'s integrated campaign, including TV, radio and print, initially launches in four markets: San Diego this month, followed by Tampa Bay, Fla.; Binghamton, N.Y.; and Akron/Canton, Ohio.

The Klein ad, created in association with graphic design company Digital Art Factory, uses an Online Sheriff as a character who recruits a young slowpoke to the high-speed world.

Mad Dogs & Englishmen's campaign will break in El Paso, Texas, this week with an outdoor board teaser campaign with lines such as "Your modem has three weeks to live." It will be followed by cable TV, radio, print and collateral campaigns introducing Road Runner as it focuses on slow Internet delivery.

The ads poke fun at the Web with statements like, "Unconstipate the Internet" and "No wonder the Internet's so damn slow, some idiot plugged it into a phone jack."


The initial creative cost of the Road Runner campaign was "hundreds of thousands of dollars," Mr. Benya said. Media buys will vary in each market.

Road Runner plans to begin regional and national broadcast advertising by the end of 1998.

The campaigns from Mad Dogs & Englishmen and Klein & are Road Runner's first national efforts to build its customer base. Previously, the company ran educational and awareness spots.

Long-term, Klein & will probably handle customer retention and maintenance, while Mad Dogs & Englishmen will focus on attracting new customers, Mr. Benya said.

Road Runner's cable modem service is more than 100 to 300 times faster than traditional 28.8 kbs modem speeds common today.

Forrester Research estimates 7 million households will subscribe to cable modem services by the year 2001.

Copyright October 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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