Plot Thickens in Alltel Push

CHICAGO Interpublic Group’s Campbell-Ewald moves from icons to salespeople in its latest work for Alltel Wireless touting the company’s My Circle calling feature.

A television, print and radio effort features sales representatives from four Alltel competitors—Cingular, Verizon, T-Mobile and Sprint—plotting against the client’s My Circle program.

In the first spot, breaking this week, the four meet at a food court to devise a plan. As they make a resolution to stay in contact, they realize that phoning each other could get expensive because they’re on different cellular plans. The ad carries the line, “Come and get your love.”

Laura Cook, senior vice president of marketing communications at the Little Rock, Ark., company, said the ads are primarily intended as “entertainment” and serve “as a fun way to further spread the word on how My Circle enhances our customers’ wireless experience.”

Alltel’s “My Circle” feature allows customers to send and receive unlimited free calls to a specific group of people, regardless of the others’ phone service providers. One recent spot from the Warren, Mich., agency depicted the advertising icons of Cingular, Verizon and T-Mobile protesting the plan in court.

Alltel spent just over $65 million on U.S. advertising through July of this year, according to Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

The new spots will air on cable networks such as MTV, TNT and ESPN. A Hispanic-themed effort, from Accent Marketing in Miami, will appear on Univision and Telefutura.

The effort will also include an interactive component. A series of Webisodes available on Alltel’s My Circle Web site features an Alltel character trying to gain access to competitors’ CEOs to educate them about the My Circle plan.

The company is also leveraging is sponsorship with four NFL teams to launch a “Celebrity Circle” promotion, in which customers can add four players (Arizona’s Larry Fitzgerald, Carolina’s Steve Smith, Cleveland’s Joe Jurevicius and New Orleans’ Joe Hom) to their circle, giving fans the chance to win prizes, including game tickets and memorabilia.