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Alltel Tests The Wireless Waters In Florida

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Cranford Johnson Robinson Woods' TV Defeats a God at His Game
DALLAS--Cranford Johnson Rob-inson Woods of Little Rock, Ark., has launched a test market campaign for Alltel in Jacksonville, Fla., that may be expanded to some of the telco's other regions later this year.
Spending for the Jacksonville initiative, which will run for three months, was not disclosed. Alltel spends $10-15 million annually on advertising, according to Cranford Johnson Robinson Woods (CJRW) senior vice president and creative director Boyd Blackwood.
CJRW's two 60- and two 30-second television spots place Mercury, messenger god of the Roman deities, in modern day settings like a laundromat, bus station and at a sidewalk pay phone. In each ad he complains that the client's package of teleservices renders him obsolete as the "god of communications."
Each TV ad plugs Alltel's monthly fee of $39.95 for wireless airtime, Internet access and paging, plus a nine cents per minute rate for digital and residential long-distance calls.
Blackwood said Alltel is the sixth wireless telephone service provider to enter the Jacksonville market.
Teaser newspaper ads that did not mention Alltel preceded the launch of the TV spots.
Blackwood said if the campaign succeeds in Jacksonville, it will likely be rolled out to other Alltel markets, including Little Rock; Birmingham, Ala.; and Charlotte, N.C.
In March, Little Rock-based Alltel announced its plans to merge with 360 Communications, a wireless provider in Chicago. The transaction--valued at $6 billion by Alltel--is expected to close in the third quarter. Alltel provides wireless, landline, long-distance and Internet services to three million customers in 14 states.
Alltel representative Stan Nelson and 360 Communications senior vice president of marketing Susan Amato said no decision has been made yet about consolidating advertising duties when the merger is finalized. The Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., is the lead shop for 360.
--Steve Krajewski