Insight Communitions “Phone”

Even amid heated debate about illegal immigration, most Americans aren’t averse to foreigners. They just don’t want to speak with them on the phone when they call a customer-service line. This spot for cable company Insight Communications taps into that sentiment to underscore its view that “good service is local.” The voiceover refers to the annoyance we feel when “we have to talk in circles to machines and not humans.” But viewers will really perk up when it asks “when we do get a human being on the line, why are they often on the other side of the world?” It’s a common complaint in over-the-back-fence conversation, but not one we often come across on our TV screens. (By the way, the spot is properly careful not to let its disdain for faraway phone banks be mistaken for old-fashioned nativism, as the local Insight customer-service people we see and hear here are a conspicuously multiethnic crew.) Emphasizing that Insight’s customers will be able to talk with human beings who inhabit their own side of the world, the spot says these customer-service reps “may be your neighbor, or someone you know.” Personally, I’d feel mildly alarmed if a neighbor or someone I know answered the phone when I called my cable company to complain about its latest lapse, so the spot may have gone overboard here in expressing the localness of its customer service. –Mark Dolliver