Everywoman Allegories for Alltel

Television ads breaking for wireless communications provider Alltel return Faith Hill as a celebrity endorser with a real life.

Targeted at consumers in the Southeast, the $35 million campaign includes media buys on telecasts of the Country Music Awards, the NBA Finals and the Masters golf tournament. Throughout 2001, spots will run on Friends, Frasier, Survivor and The West Wing.

Created at The Martin Agency in Richmond, Va., by vice chairman and creative group director Kerry Feuerman, the campaign retains the “The power to simplify” tagline.

In three of the four television commercials, the Grammy award winner is featured as a “regular” person prone to the same telecommunication glitches as the rest of us.

“Dogs,” conceived for Alltel’s Family Friendly plan, places her in the common position of phoning home, only to be answered by her toddler daughter who lets Mommy say hello to the dogs, then drops the receiver and disappears. A frustrated Hill calls, “Honey … Put Daddy on the phone” as the dogs sniff, but take no messages.

In “Bubble Bath,” she’s in the enviable position of a solitary soak, until her manicured toe gets stuck in the faucet. The moral: If you bring your cell phone to the bathroom, keep it within arm’s reach.

“We’ve loosened her up in this campaign,” said Feuerman. “Faith isn’t a professional comedienne, so we didn’t try to make her funny. We just put her in situations where she’s one of us.”

In “I Know You,” however, Feuerman plays against Hill’s fame. As the camera follows her through a day of autograph seekers, giggling girls recognizing her on the street, and greetings from total strangers, Hill spots a high school friend in the crowd. “Julie?” she asks, but the woman does not recognize her. “We were in high school together.” Anyone else might have retreated, but Hill perseveres, finally adding with emphasis, “I was in your wedding!”

“Amazing Grace” exploits Hill’s talent. In a tightly edited vignette of the singer doing a sound check before a stadium concert, Hill is asked to “sing something.” According to Feuerman, Hill required only two takes. “The second time I asked her to pretend she was singing it like a lullaby,” he said. “That’s all the direction she needed.”

Alltel is headquartered in Little Rock, Ark.