Doner Putting U.S. Cellular In A Holiday Mood

Telecom Company Makes Its First Christmas Cell Phone Sales Call
DETROIT–United States Cellular this week breaks its first holiday-themed campaign with new broadcast work from W.B. Doner & Co.
A 30-second TV spot, which breaks today, blends humor and nostalgia in comparing Christmas past and Christmas present for two brothers. The spot begins with old home-movie footage showing the two excitedly trying out their matching walkie-talkies on Christmas morning.
The scene shifts to the present day to show the brothers, now grown up, receiving matching cellular phones for Christmas. Their reaction is much the same as when they were kids. The spot continues the company’s tagline: “The way people talk around here.”
The cellular company focuses its business on medium-sized, small and rural markets, so its advertising usually features “neighborly” characters with whom people can identify, said John Sloan, executive vice president and account management director at the Southfield, Mich., agency.
“The holidays really are a special time of the year, and consumers think differently” during that time, concentrating on buying gifts for others rather than for themselves, Sloan said. “We really wanted something that would capture the brand, but tied to the holiday season, which is all about nostalgia.”
A 60-second radio spot and a newspaper ad accompany the TV spot. The campaign will run through Dec. 31 in nearly all the 143 markets nationwide that the company serves.
The Chicago-based retailer, which is listed as one of the fastest-growing companies in 1997 by Fortune, spends an estimated $30 million on advertising annually. Like most telecommunications providers, it runs retail-based advertising nearly every week of the year, but it only began focusing on brand building in the fall of 1997. Doner has handled the account since mid-1996.