Playing the Telenumbers Game

She: an attractive blonde who enthusiastically rattles off her telephone number to her seatmate as they step off a plane.

He: a pudgy geek who obviously can’t believe his good luck in obtaining the fair damsel’s number. The only question is: Will he remember it?

An amusing race against time follows in this, the first of a series of television spots from GSD&M for SBC Communications’ directory assistance service. As the young man sets off on a desperate airport-wide search for pen and paper, his focused chanting of the woman’s number becomes infiltrated by flight numbers, public address system announcements and a waitress calling out an order until the prized phone number is completely lost.

With SBC directory assistance, “all you need is a name and a city,” says the voiceover.

The campaign, which breaks Monday, Aug. 21, includes two other 30-second executions. In “Cousins,” a man’s funeral goes unattended because his relatives do not have the phone numbers of his friends. In “Nicole,” a group of guys drooling over their friend’s out-of-town girlfriend slyly ask what her last name is when he reveals they have broken up.

The campaign marks the first television work for San Antonio-based SBC marketing this particular service. “Everybody does know to dial 1411 [for information], but they don’t know they can now dial 1411 and get numbers nationwide,” said Steve Miller, group creative director at the Austin, Texas agency. “The SBC family seems to be moving in the direction of being a little more aggressive . . . and have allowed us to explore humor with these ads.”

The ads will air in eight Southwestern markets on spot and cable television. Regional versions of the campaign for Ameritech and Pac Bell will also appear in those Midwest and West Coast markets.

The total budget for the campaign, which includes radio and outdoor elements, is estimated at$10 million.