Ameritech Tackles Telemarketers


APL’s TV Spots Promote New Call Screener, Quieter Dinnertimes

By Trevor Jensen

CHICAGO–Acknowledging one of its chief sales techniques can be
a major annoyance, Ameritech in mid-October launches a TV campaign behind a product it will sell to block unwanted calls from telemarketers.
The TV spots, created by lead Ameritech shop Ammirati Puris Lintas here suggest that unwanted calls–including those from telecommunications companies–can derail, if not destroy, precious family moments. The product spots acknowledge “the absence of telecommunications will also be well-received” at certain times, said Brad Brinegar, president of APL Chicago.
Ameritech’s “Privacy Manager” intercepts calls that would show up as private, blocked or unavailable on the user’s Caller ID system. The telemarketer would then have to enter the name of the business so the customer could decide whether to pick up. Privacy Manager sells for $3.95 a month in Chicago, but requires the $7.50 a month Caller ID option to work.
“We have a variety of customers, some of whom have asked us for an intelligent way to manage calls into their home,” Ameritech representative Dave Onak said. “So we really see no irony in this.”
The people who order the service are not likely to be among those who will place orders through telemarketers anyway, Brinegar suggested.
The American Telemarketing Association issued a statement supporting such devices, saying it has “always supported consumer choice in receiving information on goods and services over the phone.”
Some telemarketers said the product would block sales calls consumers may want to receive. “It’s only an unwanted sales call if it’s a product the household isn’t interested in,” said Deborah Pearlman, president of DKP & Associates in Skokie, Ill. “But if it [concerns] something the household may be interested in, a call is received very differently.”