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Johnson Pitches Cricket to Home-Phone Market

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A new campaign from the Johnson Group for Cricket Communications marks a shift in creative strategy for the wireless provider. In two 30-second television spots, the Chattanooga, Tenn., shop is telling consumers to ditch their landline telephones.

Both the agency and the client wanted Cricket to be among the first telecom advertisers to talk about replacing the familiar home telephone, said Johnson executive creative director Mike Fazende.

"Given that the wireless market is not expanding, we've got to think of who we can take share away from," Fazende said. "The choice was to go into landline territory. About a quarter of our customers have already made the decision to make Cricket their only phone."

The work discards the San Diego-based client's signature green couch for an army of crickets. Directed by Kier McFarland of MJZ in Los Angeles, the spots mix live action and computer graphics.

In one ad, crickets steal telephones from houses in the dead of night. As the camera pans across a suburban landscape, thousands of phones are marched over a cliff. A voiceover points out that the client's wireless phone can replace wired services, concluding with the tagline, "Cricket. It could be your only phone."

"End of the Line" shows a long queue of phones stretching around a city block towards a large office building. As a young man approaches, viewers see an "Unemployment Office" sign. A narrator explains the logic of having just one phone that can go anywhere. The tag and a promotion close the spot.

The TV, radio and print effort broke this month in 20 markets including Phoenix, Denver, Pittsburgh, Salt Lake City, Nashville, Tenn., and Charlotte, N.C. Campaign spending is undisclosed.

Cricket's ad spending was $23 million in 2001 and $17 million through August of this year, per CMR.