On a Rescue Mission

At the heart of Lawler Ballard Van Durand’s first television ads for Xspedius is a small business owner who’s clueless when it comes to the Internet.

Conceived by the Birmingham, Ala., shop’s creative director and copywriter, Bruce Mansfield, and Walt Taylor of Creative Annex in Norfolk, Va., the series re-volves around “Walter.” The harried protagonist is trying to run a business the old-fashioned way—without an integrated voice and data provider.

Three spots use classic Bob Newhart setups: Walter, played by Toronto comedian Terry Hart, deadpans for the camera and the offscreen voice of “Charlotte,” a sardonic office mom.

In “Scotty,” he must call his son to resurrect his Web connection. In “Download,” Walter, needing three days to download a file for a client on hold, asks Charlotte to break the bad news. “I have a better idea,” she says and forwards the call to him.

The “It’s 2001. Start acting like it.” tag slams over each vignette. A husky voiceover works like a wake up: “Xspedius. Local, long-distance, high-speed Internet.”

“We’re targeting companies too small to have their own IT departments,” said Gene Taylor, chief creative officer at LBVD. “The first commercials show what it’s like not having Xspedius.”

The ads start this week on regional broadcast and cable outlets. The media budget is undisclosed.

New TV spots, breaking in mid-year, will come full circle and show Walter using the client’s product.

Xspedius is based in Lake Charles, La.