EMM Breaks Rules for Telco-Excel

SFX Flash for 10-10 Long-Distance Service Destroys Rivals’ Regs
ATLANTA–In advertisements, like in movies, special effects work best when they supplement the narrative, not replace it.
EMM Creative of Bethesda, Md., kept that rule in mind when it crafted the fourth and fifth TV commercials in a national campaign for Telco-Excel Communications. The effort promotes the Chantilly, Va., company’s discount long-distance service 10-10-297.
Both spots are called “Fine Print.” In each, phone customers complain about the numerous disclaimers and restrictions that lurk in rivals’ 10-10 ads and lead to extra fees. As they whine, lines of jargon scroll past them from all sides, listing all these regulations. When the screen becomes too crowded, the consumer starts plucking the rules out of the air in disgust, crumbling them into a ball, then hitting them off screen with a baseball bat or discarding them.
Both 30-second spots end with a customer saying, “When you see 10-10, look for the fine print. Then look for the 297.”
“We intended things to be [a mix of] flashy and fact,” said Jim Learned, EMM Creative’s vice president of marketing and account services, who admitted that an earlier Telco-Excel TV commercial without effects was not as effective.
“We found after an analysis, everyone of these 10-10 services . . . [has] a caveat,” Learned said.
“Some have a hookup charge, some a minimum fee, some a monthly fee, whatever. It’s a unique position to have a flat rate, period. But the first spot we did didn’t have that [visual] appeal. [Telco-Excel] liked the campaign, and they gave us more time to do something a little more with it.”
Learned described EMM creative director of animation and special effects Bob Howard as “the real hero of the campaign.” Howard also served as art director on the spots.
Other individual production credits go to account manager Lindy Bowman and copywriter Art Ehrens, who also directed the spots. Ehrens and Learned shared creative director duties.