New Ads to Pitch MSN, Verizon Wireless Partnership

Verizon Wireless and Microsoft’s MSN portal on Friday will launch a new multi-million dollar marketing and advertising campaign in support of their new mobile service.

The “VZW with MSN” service, which places MSN content and special features like MSN’s instant messenger application on Verizon Wireless-enabled mobile phones, will be promoted through network television, print, online and retail ads running through the next several months.

The ads, designed by Verizon’s agency of record, Interpublic-owned Bozell, borrow from both brands’ current campaigns. As a result, the new effort shows both MSN’s multicolored butterfly logo and the so-called “Test Man” (the “Can you hear me now?” character) from Verizon Wireless’s TV ads.

For example, a print execution features “Test Man” standing in a field, surrounded by fluttering MSN butterflies. Title of the piece reads: “What you want just about anywhere you go with MSN and Verizon Wireless.”

Copy in the execution reads: “Now you can access the power of MSN Internet Services from Microsoft with the mobility of Verizon Wireless … Just one more way more people in more places are discovering how Verizon Wireless does more for you wherever you go.”

“It’s to educate consumers about the service, and what they can do with their mobile phones using the service,” said MSN product manager Lisa Gurry. The ads also highlight specific features of the service, such as MSN Instant Messenger, MSN Hotmail and the ability to access “MSN news and information on the go,” she said.

Specifics of the media buy weren’t disclosed, but the firms said ads will run in newspapers including The Wall Street Journal, USAToday, and local papers.

For months after the advertising campaign, the joint service also will be promoted through in-store displays at the more than 1,200 Verizon Wireless stores nationwide, as well as the thousands of retailers carrying Verizon Wireless phones and services.

In addition, a yearlong direct marketing campaign looks to reach more than 100 million consumers, while MSN will promote the product across its network of sites.

“This is a long-term relationship and this is a product that you don’t just offer today and stop,” said Dave Bowen, advertising director at Verizon Wireless, which is a joint venture of Verizon Communications and Vodafone . “You will see this product offered continuously, whether through direct, television or in-store. We’re in it for the long haul.”

Added Verizon Wireless Chief Marketing Officer John Stratton, “Today’s announcement is a milestone, but just the beginning of an alignment of two of the most powerful brands today with incredible reach into the consumer space.”

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