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Ameritech Takes Goodby's Campaign National

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Goodby, Silverstein & Partners comically plays on people's fear of the unknown in a new TV campaign for Ameritech.

After seeing the work, parent SBC Communications expanded the campaign nationally to include its Pacific Bell and Southwestern Bell brands.

The new work focuses on Ameri-tech's reliability to tout its local phone service. Regulators are expected to allow long-distance firms to compete for local service in all of SBC's market areas by next year. In exchange, SBC will be able to start selling long-distance service.

The ads treat the new rivals as interlopers whose performance is unknown and untested. In each spot a telemarketer is shown offering a caller a "terrific offer" if he or she changes phone services. The offer triggers bad memories of other instances when the caller switched service providers.

"We knew from the start we wanted to use humor, and once we got the idea, we came up with about 40 scripts," said senior writer Mimi Cook, who crafted the ads with art director Margaret Johnson.

In one spot, a man recalls the time he hired a new plumber. When the man returned home and opened his front door, a flood of water washed him down the street. Following is the statement: "You're better off with what you know."

Each commercial ends with the existing tagline: "SBC's Ameritech. We're on it."

The first three 30-second spots broke in Detroit and Chicago in early November. Two more spots are in production. The San Antonio-based client is finalizing plans for a national rollout in the first quarter of 2002, said agency officials. The budget is undisclosed.

SBC is one of Goodby's largest clients, with billings of about $100 million, sources said. The San Francisco shop does the majority of SBC's creative, while GSD&M in Austin, Texas, handles most media chores.

SBC spent $450 million on advertising last year and $336 million in the first eight months of 2001, per CMR.