Regionalizing National Ad Campaign

April 18, 2003
| By Katy Rent |
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GRAND RAPIDS — In an effort to recruit local customers in several of its markets, AT&T has developed a national ad campaign that it now has regionalized to lend a local flavor to its message.

Some of the hot issues noted in the ads in Grand Rapids are the racial discrimination lawsuit against the University of Michigan, the pending issue concerning possible closure of some Grand Rapids Schools, skateboard fines and the Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit.

“The campaign is entitled ‘Talk is Good’ and we wanted to get people talking,” said Kevin Crull, senior vice president of marketing and sales for AT&T Consumer.

“These are the topics people in West Michigan are talking about and if we can get them to talk about it over the phone, we have our customers.”

Crull added that during the company’s market research, it found that customers are bombarded with telecom messages and begin to really tune most of the messages out after awhile.

AT&T and Crull felt it was time to break through the monotony and to reach customers by telling them that telephone service is not always about communicating more, but about communicating more effectively.

The ads were created by AT&T’s advertising agency of record, Young & Rubicam, which designed the television, radio and print ads to focus on what consumers find most important to talk about in their lives.

The firm says it has based each ad on extensive qualitative and quantitative research to reflect real local market data surrounding consumers’ issues, concerns, thoughts and feelings present within communities.

“The platform in the Grand Rapids area is to promote One Rate USA, a phone plan of local and domestic long distance calls for one price,” Crull said.

“We are launching this in specific markets and it is in most of those markets that we are trying the ad campaign.”

Young & Rubicam has performed the same research in each of the 12 markets the campaign will hit, asking customers what they are talking about and when they are talking.

Each ad running in Grand Rapids will allude to two to three topics, Crull said. He said, too, that each will incorporate the local hot topics with a few current national issues.

Crull said the ads are multi-dimensional and multi-cultural with four area-specific 30 and 60-second TV spots.

He said the initial advertising focuses on AT&T’s residential local, long distance and recently introduced video relay services.

Crull said each TV commercial will feature transitions from one colored screen background to another, each slate with messages that highlight the hot topics in the community.

The long distance ads include the message, “Whether you have a lot to say about what’s going on, or a little, we have a long distance plan that fits.”

The local spots include the message, “Local issues may be a bit complicated, but how you talk about them doesn’t have to be. Introducing simplified calling from AT&T.”

Both ads close with the company’s positioning, “Talk is Good. AT&T.”

The spots also feature music from contemporary artists who sing, “Thank you for Hearing me,” “Home,” “Your Town” and “Ohio.”

Additionally, the company will seek to reach diverse audiences and has created companion campaigns in Spanish, Vietnamese, Korean and Chinese.

“We have done regionalized ads before,” said Crull.

“But we haven’t gone this specific. We would do maybe one for California, one for the east coast and one for the west coast, but never city-to-city.”

Crull noted that the company would measure results from the 12-week campaign two ways.

First, he indicated, AT&T will know the campaign is successful if, in its wake, the firm gains customers.

Second, Young & Rubicam will conduct further market research.

“Young & Rubicam will talk with people and see if our ads break through the clutter and create awareness,” said Crull.

“These are all softer measures but we are looking to see if these advertisements are improving people’s perceptions as well.”

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