A conversation with...
Nikki Warburton, Group Director, Product, Sales & Marketing, AUSTAR
Nikki joined AUSTAR in April 2001 as General Manager, Marketing, and was appointed Director, Marketing later that year. In 2006 Nikki was appointed Group Director, Product, Sales & Marketing. Nikki has brought to AUSTAR a wealth of marketing experience, having worked previously within both the advertising and marketing industries. Prior to joining AUSTAR, Nikki was with DDB Advertising in the Management Team for two and half years and, prior to that, for 5 years she was Head of Marketing for Astre Automotive Group who were the Australian distributors for Hyundai, Chrysler Jeep & Audi. Nikki has a Bachelor of Economics degree majoring in Accounting and Marketing.
What are some of the issues AUSTAR is working with in Queensland after the cyclone and flooding?
We immediately institued our Disaster Relief Policy, and in the first instance, are supporting all of the flood-affected victims by offering bill-relief. There is a core group of around 10,000 people whose homes are simply unlivable, and with customers in this group we will be working out longer-term options such as payment plans, deferral etc. For customers who are not as badly affected, we have had feedback that AUSTAR is providing them with very welcome entertainment relief. We were also told that updates from SKY NEWS and The Weather Channel proved invaluable during the worst of the storms. We’re keen to focus on the rebuild phase and are contacting our AUSTAR for schools communities to see what needs to be done.
How has AUSTAR been working with the DBCDE in their efforts to transition regional Australia to digital?
AUSTAR has been involved with the Digital Switchover from the very beginning. In fact, our MyStar PVR was developed with this event in mind, incorporating digital tuners so that customers can receive all of their local, digital channels. Given that Regional Australia was due to switch up to five years in advance of the capital cities, it was very important that we get involved, and MyStar has proven to be a very useful tool for people who want to switch. Obviously anyone with AUSTAR has been watching digital channels since 1999, and customers with MyStar have seen all of their available local channels since 2007.
AUSTAR has always been active in the community and provides 24 educational channels free to 2,500 schools. Can you tell us about the positive impacts you have seen from that initiative?
AUSTAR for schools began as a simple initiative, providing 6 of AUSTAR’s educational channels free of charge to any school within our footprint in regional Australia. Given that we’re a regional provider, we’re dealing with areas that range from metropolitan, like the Gold Coast and Wollongong, to deeply remote, and we want students to have the same access to resources in all of these areas. Over the years, we’ve grown to have 24 channels involved with the program, many of whom develop teacher’s tools.
We publish a monthly newsletter guiding educators to programming that fits the curriculum, and in 2008 we began on the ground activity. In 2010 AUSTAR for schools visited 19 schools across 5 states, donated $38,000 in grants and spoke to over 1200 students with fabulous channel talent from NITV, Discovery, Nat Geo, Fox Sports, CMC and BBC Knowledge. The impact on students has been phenomenal, having access to inspiring mentors from ‘the telly’, often from overseas. i believe we’ve changed the perception of subscription TV for the educators who are involved in the program as well.
What sort of community programs do you have planned for 2011?
We’re developing AUSTAR for schools and have some exciting plans there in 2011. We’ll continue with our Stage for Life sponsorship, which sees us bring two regional students to Sydney for a week of intense production experience with Bell Shakespeare and our channels, and we’re looking at how we can help regional Australia – QLD, NSW and VIC – recover from the floods and cyclones from earlier in the year.
We have heard positive reviews of the AUSTAR consumer campaign that is running on-air, do you have any indication of how it is working?
We’re very pleased with our new campaign and we are definitely seeing a greater lift than last year. As there has been a lot of consumer confusion over the 18 months about who has what content we felt it was important to clearly communicate our Amazing Sport offering. It is the first of our new genre campaigns under our new proposition that AUSTAR Takes TV to Amazing. It has never been more important that as an Industry we all pull together and clearly define our amazing value to both customers and non customers.
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