Time Warner Cable Admits Its Past Sins, and Vows to Be Better, in DDB’s Comic Spots

'If we can change, then so can you!'

Headshot of Patrick Coffee

Over the years, Time Warner Cable has unfortunately earned a certain less-than-flattering reputation in the customer service department. In its newest ad campaign, the cable giant has a message for customers: We know … and we're working on it.

The provider split with former agency of record Ogilvy & Mather in February after 12 years, sending its creative account to DDB New York after a review that also involved Leo Burnett and San Francisco's Eleven.

DDB's first work for the client isn't apologetic, per se. As the campaign's headline indicates, Time Warner Cable simply wants the public to know that it's "Changing for Good."

In the first spot "Motivational Speaker," comedian Greg Benson gets a little too excited while channeling Tom Cruise in Magnolia.

The spot's YouTube summary makes clear that the provider is indeed promoting a new service: "You used to have to wait all day for a technician to show up. Now 98.8% of our 1-hour arrival windows are on time. We can even send you an alert when the tech is on the way."

This isn't an entirely unexpected message for the company, which launched campaigns last year including the line, "We get it. We know how you feel about cable companies."

"Changing for Good embodies our strong commitment to doing what's right for customers and our employees," said Time Warner Cable evp and COO of residential services, John Keib. "We're shedding many sins of the past of our industry while starting to take credit for a highly differentiated customer-centric experience. Our goal is to be a best in class service experience not within cable or telecom, but across any industry, and Changing for Good is opening the door for that conversation."

The next ad "Elephant" gets a bit more explicit by drawing parallels between Time Warner Cable and a child who promises to improve his own behavior. He'll even eat his vegetables!

Finally, the last spot in the opening trio compares Time Warner representatives to members of another oft-maligned profession: airline baggage handlers.

Each spot manages to promote a newly improved product while simultaneously acknowledging the fact that the company's reputation precedes it with a comedic wink, indicating that Time Warner Cable made a conscious decision to go all in on its "We're better, we promise" messaging, in addition to naming a new lead creative agency. The campaign will include social and digital components beyond the TV ads above. 

Change isn't always easy. DDB New York CCO Icaro Doria led the campaign, and he tells Adweek, "It's so great to work with a client brave enough to talk about change in such honest way."

Indeed. Now about that 2016 rate increase…

@PatrickCoffee patrick.coffee@adweek.com Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.