FCB Bows First Work for Qwest

Qwest Communications breaks a new ad campaign today that seeks to emphasize corporate values and customer service.

The effort is the first from FCB since it took over the $100 million account in August. The quick turn around was possible because FCB had presented the strategy in April during a pitch in which DDB prevailed.

In June, CEO Joseph Nacchio resigned amid an ongoing Securities and Exchange Commission investigation into Qwest’s accounting practices. Former Amer i tech executive Dick Notebaert replaced him and hired Joan Walker as svp of corporate communications.

Walker dumped DDB in August and reassigned the business to FCB, with Interpublic Group sibling Initiative Media, New York, handling media planning and buying.

The advertiser has earmarked $25 million for the fourth-quarter ad push, sources said.

Three 30-second spots break today in 10 Western markets, where the telecom’s customers are concentrated. They will also run nationally on CNN.

The spots show a series of employee testimonials with phrases such as, “watch us now,” “fair value,” “no more babble or bur eau cracy” and “set a new standard.”

“The strategy is simply to demonstrate Qwest’s commitment to customers,” said Jeff Tarakajian, president of FCB New York. “Right now [telecom] is not a trusted or welcome category in consumers’ lives. But it’s an essential one.”

The work is also aimed at the Denver-based client’s 55,000 em ployees to illustrate a renewed company commitment and attitude. Four print ads to be posted throughout Qwest offices each show a smiling employee with phrases ghosted onto their upper bodies. One says, “Great things are about to happen here. You can just feel it.” Another says, “Take a look around. Even the plants look happier.”

Walker said she and Notebaert wanted a customer-service strategy, which they also used when launching Ameritech ads in 1996. That campaign was tagged, “In a world of technology, people make the difference.”

The Qwest work will run for a few weeks and will be followed by additional spots that focus on products and services, Walker said.

DDB had used Qwest’s “Ride the light” tag.