Verizon Plans DSL Ad Blitz

Verizon Communications plans to launch an advertising blitz on Monday to promote its recently announced DSL strategy, which includes dotting New York City with Wi-Fi connections.

The ad campaign will include running ads on TV, radio, online and outdoor. The push, which is focused mainly on New York City, will kick off with a variety of billboards that will run in Times Square on Monday.

Verizon would not disclose spending on the six-week campaign.

“We’re trying to shape a set of new expectations to what to expect from a broadband provider,” said John Wimsatt, Verizon Online’s vice president of consumer marketing and product line development.

The “It’s Powerful Stuff” campaign was designed by Interpublic’s DraftWorldwide agency.

In addition to dotting the city with outdoor ads, Verizon plans to buy primetime commercial time, Wimsatt said. He described one TV spot, in which a child comes down to the kitchen covered in seaweed and soaking wet. He tells his shocked mother that he’s been working on his oceanography project on the computer. The commercial is meant to emphasize the rich experiences possible with high-speed Internet access.

Print ads with similar themes, such as one with a shark coming through a PC screen, will run in a variety of newspapers, including The New York Times. Verizon will run radio spots, as well.

Verizon also plans a big push with online ads, including many using rich media to bring the ads to life. Wimsatt said visitors to sites like CNBC.com and NBA.com would view interstitials that emphasize the unique experience Verizon DSL offers.

“The whole marketing push is about a see it, hear it, feel it,” Wimsatt said. “It’s about more than just high speed.”

In addition to New York City, Verizon plans media buys on the West Coast and key markets, Wimsatt said. Once the campaign ends in July, he said Verizon would assess how to proceed with future DSL marketing.

Verizon has high hopes for its DSL service speeding the adoption of broadband, which has already been growing by leaps and bounds. According to Strategy Analytics, 27 percent of all U.S. households had a broadband connection by the end of 2002. By 2008, the researcher expects 59 percent of households will have high-speed access.

DSL has lagged behind cable as the access method of choice, however. In a study done last summer, cable accounted for 65 percent of all broadband connections, according to Leichtman Research Group. Strategy Analytics sees that situation changing, with DSL connections growing 40 percent this year. By the end of this year, Verizon Online, which currently has 1.8 million DSL subscribers, will have 46 million DSL-capable lines nationwide.

The Verizon campaign will seek emphasize the breadth of the company’s DSL offering, which comes bundled with MSN Internet service and (for New Yorkers) access to wireless Internet hotspots. On top of that, the company has slashed the price of monthly service to as low as $29.95. Fellow Baby Bell SBC Communications has its own DSL offering, which comes with Yahoo premium services.

As part of the MSN deal, the portal will run a variety of ads for Verizon Online DSL with MSN 8.

“What we’re trying to do is make what more people want available to more people,” Wimsatt said. “The message has always been clear that people want a better product at a better price.”

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