These New Internet Service Ads Aren’t Trying to Be Funny, Just Factual With a Wink

Arnold debuts its first spots for CenturyLink

Quiet, plain spoken and droll, CenturyLink's ad campaign from its new lead agency, Arnold, eschews the punch lines of rivals like Time Warner Cable, Optimum and Fios.

So, while a current ad for Verizon Fios jokes about "half-fast" Internet speeds (sounds like "half-assed," get it?), the new CenturyLink promos feature Adam Lisagor, known online for explaining technology and answering real questions from consumers. Lisagor, who has 40,700 followers on Twitter, stars in Sandwich Videos online, which are all about breaking down complex tech topics.

Lisagor keeps his answers plain and simple in his new role as CenturyLink's spokesman. For instance, one question comes in, "If I get the three-year price lock, am I stuck with a three-year contract?" He replies, "No. That just means that the price won't change." Similarly, when asked if CenturyLink's TV offering is any good, he says, "Yeah, I like it."

Arnold cast Lisagor for the commercials, which he also directed, because he's able to "simplify technology and technology products," said Elliott Seaborn, a managing director who leads the CenturyLink account. "He puts it in a voice that is very relatable and human. It has a wink to it, always has a smile to it, but it's not over the top.

"It is in service of actually delivering and educating people on what they're getting, very transparently, very honestly," Seaborn added. "That's what we were going for. I mean that honesty right now is in complete opposition to every single cable and Internet provider in the U.S. So, that's why we were attracted to him."

Six TV spots, part of a larger push that includes online ads and social media influencers, have rolled out in the past week. Campaign spending was not revealed, but CenturyLink typically spends about $100 million in media annually, according to Kantar Media.

The new ads represent the first work of lead agency Arnold, out of Boston, which landed the company's creative business in November after a review. The brand's media agency is Butler/Till in Rochester, N.Y.

Monroe, La.-based CenturyLink ended last year with $18 billion in revenue. While the company operates in 38 states, its business is concentrated in the Midwest and Southeast. All told, CenturyLink serves some 5.5 million customers, offering Internet access, phone service and Prism TV, a wireless set-top box featuring hundreds of channels.