Grey Looks Back to Look Ahead

Bucking the trend of most high-tech advertising, Grey Worldwide is using historical images in print ads promoting a cutting-edge company.

The San Fran cisco branch of the agency is breaking work for Telseon, a broadband Internet infrastructure provider that employs Ethernet, a technology generally used to connect PCs over a network and that Telseon claims can help businesses avoid Internet bottlenecks. The campaign is focused on the pitfalls of using traditional telephone lines instead.

One ad features a photo of Dwight D. Eisenhower and the headline, “Was your outside data network developed during an earlier administration?” Another, showing an image of an antiquated data center, asks, “Does your data run into a time warp once it leaves the office?”

“What we’re trying to do is make people aware that phones are part of the Internet problem,” said Kieran Hannon, agency president and COO. “We’re bringing a sore spot to the forefront. Now that people realize that data is subject to a lot of interruptions, what these guys have done is provide a solution.”

Hannon said the ads target the heads of Internet companies. The work will break in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, regional newspapers and niche publications.

Agency creative director Alan Randolph said the Denver-based client was receptive to the idea of using old pictures.

“The images from the ’50s and ’60s show how today’s data is being forced on to equipment that was designed 40 or 50 years ago,” Randolph said. “The visual imagery underscores the fact that you are dealing with outdated technology.”

No TV commercials are scheduled to appear.

Grey won the $10 million account roughly a month ago. Telseon is funded by several venture capital and investment firms, including Morgan Stanley Dean Witter, Donaldson Lufkin, & Jenrette and Goldman Sachs.

Grey’s San Francisco office also works with clients including Oracle, NorthPoint Communications and 24 Hour Fitness, a chain of health clubs primarily in the West.