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GCI Unites Pair of Ad Characters

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O'Hurley, Butcher Team for Alaskan Telecommunications Client
LOS ANGELES--GCI, an Internet, cable TV and long-distance phone service provider in Alaska, has brought two of its spokespeople together in its newest campaign.
John O'Hurley, best known for his Mr. Peterman character on Seinfeld, links up with four-time Iditarod champion sled dog musher Susan Butcher in the campaign from Porcaro Communications in Anchorage.
In the ads, which tout the telecommunications company's services, O'Hurley reprises the character he portrayed in previous executions--a dapper, self-absorbed, quasi-adventurer, similar to his Peterman character. Butcher, who has appeared in GCI ads off and on for the past five years, returns as O'Hurley's foil.
"We felt the combination of John and Susan was a natural," said agency president Mike Porcaro. "On the one hand, you have a guy who thinks he's an adventurer, and on the other, you've got a woman who really is one."
The eight spots that comprise the current effort were shot over two days in Alaska. They broke statewide during the Iditarod competition last month, and will air for another week or two.
Some of the new spots feature a Chihuahua named Pepe, the adventurer's "new lead sled dog." In the ads, Butcher appears amused by the O'Hurley character's lack of understanding of the race.
"GCI brought competition to [the telecommunications arena] in this market; Susan brought women into the Iditarod competition," said Porcaro, whose shop has handled the account for nearly three years.
"We thought it would be fun having him tell her about mushing," added creative director Mark Hopkin.
Ad spending is under $500,000.
The agency is working on radio ads with O'Hurley and will shoot some new commercials this summer.
The new work follows an emotional image campaign from Porcaro for GCI, anchored by a two-minute black-and-white TV spot that explored the various ways people communicate [Adweek, Jan. 31].