Cox Communications’ Digital Max is evolving from a whimsical cartoon character into a more serious adult in new spots that emphasize next-gen mobility. In edited remarks, VP of acquisition & marketing science Tony Maldonado discusses Max’s future and Cox’s brand positioning.
Let’s get to the news first. What’s Generation Cox?
Tony Maldonado: This is really the next phase of "Your Friend in the Digital Age." Generation Cox is a series of spots that we’ve just sent to the systems that is meant to highlight the technology and functionality we will be giving to consumers over the next couple of years. Our brand positioning statement/tag line is still very much "Your Friend in the Digital Age."
Tell us about the spots specifically.
TM: You’ll be seeing three spots. The point of them is that the services Cox has been providing will become less constrained. The advertising will emphasize that soon you will be able to watch your favorite programs anywhere, anytime. It’s the whole concept of mobility and eliminating time constraints. But we’ll continue to talk about technology in the same high-tech, high-touch way that our earlier Your Friend in the Digital Age spots did.
What’s Digital Max’s role in Generation Cox?
TM: He’s in all three spots. It’s interesting—almost [every previous] spot [with Max] has had a humorous twist to it. But [the three Generation Cox spots] are pretty emotional; they tug at your heart. Max’s role is very straightforward. He’s not delivering a comic close to the spots.
So we’re seeing an evolution in cable technology and Max’s personality.
TM: Yes, that’s fair.
How much thought went into changing Max’s character?
TM: Max isn’t changing, he’s evolving. Whenever you launch an icon that’s supposed to activate your basic brand positioning, there’s a lot that goes into that. We’re not interested in developing a brand positioning statement and changing it every couple of years, because many times it takes a few years to get the benefits from it. So the brand positioning statement and Max were pretty well thought through.
How are Max’s numbers?
TM: He’s been very well received, and we’re still learning how to use him best. For example, he’s best when he’s not an outright salesperson for the company, because he’s not an employee. He’s better at accentuating points. Another thing, a little bit of him on-screen goes a long way, because he’s so recognizable. And as successful as he’s been in the first year and a half, we’re finding out that if we use him in areas where’s he’s at his strongest, we think we can accelerate his success to even greater levels.
There’s a strong belief at Cox that there’s a major challenge informing consumers about technology.
TM: We believe that so much it’s essentially the impetus for our brand-positioning statement. In a consumer marketplace where technology can be overwhelming to the consumer, our goal as a provider is to make it very easy to understand and very easy to use.
That’s the rationale behind Your Friend in the Digital Age?
TM: Yes. Your Friend in the Digital Age is a positioning statement. It means we are high tech and high touch—we market high technology but in a very human, high-touch way, so it’s very accessible, very approachable, very understandable. Our distinguishing characteristic as a provider is that we’re like a friend who’s there when you need help. In an environment where things can be confusing, our role is to be a provider that really simplifies the proposition and provides services that enhance our customers’ lives.
How does Max fit in?
TM: About a year and half ago we launched Digital Max. Max is a way to bring the brand statement to life. Again, Max is not an employee, he is really like everybody’s friend. He’s the person who’s up to date on the latest technology, hence his name. As a result, he’s the consumer’s helper. He’s really meant to act as your friend in the digital age, but he’s not our brand.
It sounds like an animated cartoon character is part of a sophisticated strategy.
TM: As you know, we are upgrading our network. One thing we didn’t want to do was put together a series of spots that said, "Well, we’re going to upgrade our network and it’s going to cost this much money…" That’s not meaningful to customers. They want to know, "What’s this going to get me?" So [Generation Cox] will be communicating some of the things that will be coming through our network upgrades in a way that’s not shop talk. It’s presented on the consumer’s terms, not our terms.
Let’s talk about the demise of mainstream marketing. What about marketing in areas that are tech savvy? Do systems get to change the recipe or is it dictated from Atlanta?
TM: We produce advertising for systems’ use, but we don’t provide 100% of the advertising. We provide a body of work that all the systems use, and they supplement that at the local level.
What’s the future for marketing at Cox?
TM: The marketplace is made up of very dynamic segments that have different ways of acting and different needs. Over time we will do much less "general" or "generic" marketing and much more segmented marketing, breaking the market into actionable pieces and speaking to those segments on a one-to-one basis instead of a generic basis.
Will we see that with Your Friend in the Digital Age?
TM: We already see it on a regular basis in our acquisition efforts. We will see more of it with Your Friend in the Digital Age; however, Your Friend in the Digital Age is a branding campaign. And there are certain hallmarks that transcend the marketplace. The high tech, high touch applies to every market segment out there. The amount of potential consumer confusion over technology is consistent with every market out there so the concept and position of Your Friend in the Digital Age applies ubiquitously.