By Nora FitzGerald
WASHINGTON, D.C.--Michael Jordan has suited up to assist new company Worldcom Inc. in its $8 million multimedia image campaign breaking today.
Earle Palmer Brown, Bethesda, Md., had the enviable challenge of showing off the ubiquitous celebrity in a light detached from sneakers and basketball. The agency also helps to cultivate Jordan's own post-National Basketball Association branding as the entrepreneur of the millennium. Clad in savvy business suits, his airness appears in a series of TV spots, print ads and a phone card to drive home Worldcom as the business telecommunications company of the future.
Jordan has been associated with Worldcom, a result of the recent merger of LDDS Worldcom, MFS Communications Corp. and UUNet Technologies, since last year; he has a 10-year contract with the company.
'Our first question was how can we make the most famous guy in the world work for us?' said Michael Rowland, general manager at EPB.
Worldcom, a Fortune 500 company, is positioning itself as a major player with true one-stop shopping in the telecommunications market. 'The company has been Worldcom only since January 1997,' said Rowland. 'We're in the process of re-educating the business audience.'
The theme is: 'One Company. A World of Solutions.'
The five 30-second spots, directed by Bob Giraldi, were filmed in Chicago over five days. Targeting a business audience, the ads are humorous and almost cartoonish in tone, with rich, saturated colors. Creative directors Lori Roberts and Jennifer Brooke achieved a frenetic pace in the spots, asking the audience to suspend reality as they surround the all-knowing Jordan with a cast of over-the-top characters.
The media buy includes the network news shows, 60 Minutes on CBS, 20/20 on ABC and spot buys on CNN. Print buys include The Wall Street Journal, the New York distribution of The New York Times and the Chicago circulation of The Chicago Tribune.
The introductory teaser spot launched today makes one of the few references to Jordan's day job, using a basketball that looks like the world. Another spot breaking June 3 introduces Intelenet.
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