Conxus’ Pocketalk Will Be Heard Via Fgi’s Voice In $15 Mil. Launch

Conxus Communications, a telecom spending $15 million to launch its Pocketalk “portable answering machine,” enlisted FGI in Chapel Hill, N.C., as its strategic marketing and advertising partner.
The Pocketalk device, manufactured by Motorola, allows the user to receive messages immediately in the caller’s voice. It is being rolled out across the country, including Baltimore, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando and Tampa, Fla., and Washington, D.C., and will enter other undisclosed markets in 1998.
FGI had its foot in the door of Conxus (sounds like “connects us”) three years ago, serving as a business consultant to the fledgling Greenville, S.C., company. Last summer the agency began handling marketing projects for the client, and the relationship has since become more formal, said Karen Albritton, FGI media director and Conxus account director.
It was unclear at press time if other agencies competed for the telecom’s business. According to FGI, McCann-Erickson in New York, Motorola’s agency of record, has done work for Conxus.
Steve Cook, chief operating officer of Conxus, said in a statement that FGI’s “deep industry knowledge” and “proven track record of product launches” made the shop a logical choice. FGI’s category experience includes BellSouth, American Mobile Satellite and Cellular One.
Agency chief executive officer Tom Butta described the marketing challenge for Pocketalk: “People are comfortable with what pagers and voicemail do, so how do we take this new product and humanize it and make it a part of people’s lives?”
So far, the agency has marketed the personal communications product via radio and print advertising. FGI chief creative officer Denzil Strickland said radio commercials for Pocketalk employ audio “vignettes” to sell the product, while newspaper advertisements, using the headline, “The pager that speaks for itself,” have been retail oriented.
Conxus plans to introduce a portable email device called Pocketext. It is unknown whether FGI will handle that product launch.