Publicis Talks Up T-Mobile’s Minutes

LOS ANGELES Publicis Group’s Publicis West has launched a television and print campaign introducing T-Mobile’s new “Whenever minutes” rate plan, the agency said.

The Seattle-based client has already established itself as “a value player” among wireless-service providers via its core campaign spots, according a Publicis representative. The current effort draws even more attention to this by highlighting the “massive amount of ‘Whenever minutes’ offered” in a humorous way, she said.

Each of the three 30-second TV ads is set at the fictional “T-Mobile Testing Center,” a Senate-like venue designed to “replicate real lab conditions,” said Publicis West executive creative director Bob Moore. In the all-white theater, scores of serious-looking technicians progress through various stages of boredom as they attempt to determine if 1,500 ‘Whenever minutes’ are “enough for the biggest talkers.”

As the cell-chatting subjects—a gum-chomping cheerleader, a deal-chasing businessman and an ultra-motivated real-estate agent—talk with abandon, a huge digital clock tallies off the seconds.

Spots end with a new, campaign-specific tagline, “Go ahead, talk it up.” The slogan is delivered by T-Mobile spokesperson Catherine Zeta-Jones.

Because this is the “biggest promotion T-Mobile has done in three years in terms of minutes, [Publicis] had to break out of campaign constructs,” explained Moore, who worked on the effort with a team including group creative director Todd Grant, art director Steven Grskovic and copywriter Glenn Rockowitz. “We had to do something different.”

To achieve that goal, in addition to building the lab, Publicis creatives actually chatted with the actors on their cell phones during the shoots, Moore said. Some of the final spots’ material included their partially ad-libbed halves of those conversations.

The first two TV ads and print components featuring the “Go ahead” tag broke nationally last week, according to the agency. The third TV spot—featuring actress Rachael Harris as the ambitious realtor—breaks this week.

Campaign spending was not disclosed. T-Mobile spent $322 million on advertising in 2004, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus; $248 million of that total was on TV executions. From January to August of this year, the client spent $172 million on TV.