New Theme, Van Drive Vonage Campaign

BOSTON Havas’ Arnold has developed an integrated campaign for Internet phone company Vonage that introduces the theme “One smart decision” in a quintet of spots that break this week.

Director Bryan Buckley of Hungry Man Productions shot the new commercials for the Boston-based agency.

In keeping with the general tone of earlier ad efforts, the latest spots show people about to do stupid things. A flying Vonage box thrown out of an elaborately painted van, known as the “Von,” interrupts them.

Scenarios include a woman who is about to swim with sharks and a “geek” who dumps his hot girlfriend.

Vonage spent $125 million in U.S. measured media last year and $160 million through the first half of 2006, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

“Clearly there was a need to further evolve Vonage’s advertising campaign efforts to reach a broader audience,” said Mike Snyder, client CEO. “Vonage is now targeting larger demographics as it has now broadened its marketing campaigns to include sports and entertainment advertising and sponsorships.”

The work debuts on Saturday during the Notre Dame-Penn State football game. It will continue to air during the collegiate and professional football seasons, as well as on cable networks including MTV, Bravo and CNN.

The Vonage van will also appear at events nationwide. Online ads run on Internet portals including AOL, ESPN and Yahoo, with print ads in USA Today, Health and Motor Trend.

Arnold broke its first work for Edison, N.J.-based Vonage in December 2004, shortly after winning the business in a review. The “stupid things” concept was there from the start, along with the campaign’s nearly iconic “Whoo-Hoo” soundtrack. Recent executions have been tempered somewhat by the use of customer testimonials.

Vonage, which went public this year, has been under pressure of late as its market share slipped to 30 percent in the first quarter from nearly 35 percent two years ago, when Arnold added the business, according to a survey by researchers at Sanford C. Bernstein.

Analysts attribute the slippage to heightened competition from rivals such as eBay’s Skype as well as from cable companies.

On the plus side, Vonage said it now has 2 million subscribers, up from 350,000 when it hired Arnold and up from about 1.5 million at the close of the first quarter.

For the latest campaign, Matt Lindley and Mary Webb served as executive creative directors. Mike Pilato was art director; Kaelan Richards wrote the copy.