Founded in 1972, Home Box Office (HBO) was the oldest and largest premium pay television channel in the United States. Unlike network television and most other cable channels, which raised revenue by selling advertising spots during programming, HBO relied exclusively on subscribers’ monthly fees to generate income. As consumers’ entertainment choices multiplied dramatically over the years, HBO strove to construct a distinctive niche for itself and to stand out amid competitors, which included other television channels, movies, home video rentals, and the Internet. In 1996 HBO launched an innovative $60 million television advertising campaign in an effort to draw attention to itself and to strengthen its brand recognition. The spots, conceived by ad agency BBDO New York, sought to reflect the spirit and the programming of HBO. Instead of previewing upcoming events or providing a traditional ‘‘tune-in’’ message, the ‘‘It’s Not T.V. It’s HBO’’ campaign attempted to present the viewer with a sample of HBO’s programming. The five spots making up the campaign deliberately strove to be humorous, creative, and original.
According to the company, based on surveys prior to and following the launch of the campaign, ‘‘It’s Not T.V.
It’s HBO’’ achieved its goal of increasing the network’s brand image and awareness among consumers. Further, the campaign earned praise from the media and advertising industries. ‘‘Chimps,’’ the first commercial of the campaign, was awarded the first ever commercial Emmy. In 1997 the ‘‘Chimps’’ spot received a Gold Clio Award in the Television/Cinema category. As the campaign continued, its focus shifted, and the slogan evolved into the network’s mantra, setting HBO apart not only from other pay television channels but also from all TV networks. The Cable& Telecommunications Association for Marketing (CTAM) named the campaign its Hall of Fame winner in 2003