Mullen Fashions Two for Nextel

Nextel Communications has broadened its advertising strategy, unveiling separate campaigns from Mullen designed to appeal to different customer segments.

Actor Dennis Franz returns this week in consumer-focused ads for Nextel’s hand-held phones. Also looking to get its products into the boardroom and the hands of sales professionals, the client has launched commercials supporting its Wireless Business Solutions.

“A lot of phone lines are good at carrying voice, not data, but Nextel does both,” said Mullen chief creative Edward Boches. As a result, a multifaceted marketing approach is needed to target all potential customers, he said.

Reston, Va.-based Nextel is Mullen’s largest client, having spent more than $150 million on ads last year and $30 million in the first two months of 2002, according to CMR.

Franz’s appearance in a pair of 30-second spots plays off an ear lier campaign in which the NYPD Blue star insists he “doesn’t do commercials.”

In one new spot, Franz is shown in an airport, a look of disgust on his face as he spies a giant poster of him touting Nextel’s Direct Connect two-way-radio feature. He pulls out his phone to call his agent. “You remember that conversation we had?” he asks. “The one where I said I don’t do any ads?” As the agent assures him the airport ad is the only one, a dismayed Franz walks outside to find more ads plastered on buses leaving the airport.

The second campaign highlights Wireless Business Solutions’ value in the enterprise marketplace. The campaign, titled “Wall of Fame,” targets senior executives with the message that using the system makes good business sense.

One ad features a group of CEOs in framed portraits discussing the merits of Nextel’s wireless sys tems. “What’s all the hullabaloo?” a man asks. “Seems our com pany has wireless access to all our critical network data,” answers a woman.

The response is met with other CEOs asking about “Customer files?” and “Inventory?” and one asking what a network is. An older CEO demands to know who asked such an ignorant question. “Oh, that’s Egan,” a man replies. “Forty, ’41, the lean years,” referring to a time when things weren’t so good.

“It’s a nice way of saying those were the years we didn’t do so well as a company,” Boches said, “before these services were available.”