FiOS, Verizon's voice, Internet and video service that operates over a fiber-optic network, is not actually available at the North Pole.
However, for the purposes of its Direct Line to Santa promo, which enables users to chat with Santa based on a series of questions, it is.
Coincidentally, in addition to chatting with Santa, the Direct Line also tells users whether they are eligible for FiOS.
In fact, in order to tap into the Direct Line, the first thing users must do is enter their addresses and click, "Chat with Santa!"
For users eligible for FiOS, a fiber-optic cable connects their home to the North Pole prior to the conversation. And, at the end, these users are given offers for FiOS.
Ineligible addresses are connected to Santa without a cable.
First, Santa asks if users have been naughty or nice.
Users that respond with some variation of nice are asked what gift they want and are given an opportunity to ask Santa a question of their own.
Users that respond with naughty or the like are still eventually asked what gift they want and are given an opportunity to ask Santa a question.
"Prior to Santa being filmed, we worked with an agency to come up with a long list of possible questions and answers. Based on that, we filmed Santa answering those questions," says Patricia Foster, director of marketing communications and branding at Verizon. "Obviously it's a huge, long list and we shot dozens and dozens of potential responses."
Verizon worked with production company B-Reel on the campaign.
The system uses word recognition to choose the most appropriate response from Santa.
What's more, the site has a list of answers that is constantly being refined as new responses come in so Santa can continue to provide accurate answers.
According to Foster, the holidays are a big opportunity for Verizon as consumers receive new devices and may be looking to upgrade their services.
Verizon opted for the Direct Line to Santa because it's a "fun, non-salesy way" to engage potential FiOS customers. That way, when they are thinking about upgrading their services after receiving new devices for the holidays, FiOS will be at the top of their minds, Foster adds.
The campaign targets families with children, as well as individuals 25 to 40 years old.
"Really a lot of adults like to do it, too, to stump Santa," Foster says.
Verizon would not disclose the number of users to date, but said users as far away as Ecuador are using the site.
In addition to deals on FiOS, users are also given a chance to win a $200 gift card by submitting their email addresses. One gift card is awarded each day throughout the promotion, which runs December 4 to 25.
Verizon is doing some promotion through social media, but is also relying on word of mouth via the share function at the end of the experience, Foster says.
Lisa Lacy is senior staff writer at ClickZ. In addition to ClickZ, her work has appeared in The Huffington Post, The Luxury Spot, LearnVest, MarthaStewart.com, GoodHousekeeping.com, amNewYork, and The Wall Street Journal. She's a graduate of Columbia's School of Journalism.
May 22, 2013
1:00pm ET / 10:00am PT
June 5, 2013
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