Vonage is trading testimonial ads for a character-driven approach.
In the first campaign from new agency JWT, the online phone service today introduces a wild-haired man on the street who, in an opening salvo ad, calls for a different kind of phone company.
“Your phone company is living in the Stone Age: barbaric pricing models, outdated technology,” the man bellows to no one in particular on a New York City sidewalk. “What we need is a company that connects us with generosity.”
The message resonates with a thirtysomething guy in a blazer within earshot, who says, “We should talk.” Mr. Blazer, in turn, hires man on the street and introduces him at a press conference as Vonage’s new “chief generosity officer.” The tagline—naturally—is “crazy generous.”
The furry character—and new strategy—was part of JWT’s winning pitch for Vonage’s creative business several months ago. The new shop succeeded TBWA\Chiat\Day on the account. Vonage spends about $150 million in media each year.
With the new strategy, Vonage takes a page of out the playbook of brands such as Virgin Mobile that skewer inflexible corporate policies and embrace the concept of power to the people.
“This is an approach that resonates within Vonage because we are very grounded in generosity. We are very focused on volunteerism,” explained Barbara Goodstein, chief marketing officer at Vonage in Holmdel, N.J. “We found or saw our own passion for the topic during Hurricane Sandy when hundreds of people within Vonage started volunteering to help restore the [Jersey] shore. And it seemed like a very rational, appropriate approach for us” in the company’s advertising.
As for the hairy character himself, Goodstein described him as having the “academic mind of a professor, the tech-savvy look of an engineer and the whimsy of an eccentric genius. And when you put all that together, that’s what you get. At least in our mind, that’s what you get.”
The hairy genius won’t just appear in ads. He’ll also have a Facebook page and Twitter account and appear in online videos, according to Goodstein. Crazy generous exposure, if you will.