Verizon Wants to Put Real People and Real Stories in Its Advertisements

It's part of the company's efforts towards showcasing authenticity, CMO Diego Scotti told Adweek

Scotti talked to Adweek on Verizon Media Beach at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity.
Sean T. Smith for Adweek

CANNES, France—Authenticity in advertising is paramount to brands right now—consumers are savvier than ever. How brands that deliver that authenticity, however, differs.

Diego Scotti, evp and CMO of Verizon, told Adweek in a conversation on Verizon Media Beach at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity that consumer desire for authenticity has led Verizon to exclusively use “real people” and “real stories” in its advertisements—not actors and scripts.

“We have really pivoted to have a very strong focus on authenticity that to me is at the heart of really good brand marketing these days, ” said Scotti. “It has helped us to really transform the brand from the perspective of how people connect with it.”

These “real people”-focused advertisements have already made several appearances in Verizon’s marketing lineup. The company’s Super Bowl spot this year featured the actual California firefighters and first responders who worked as wildfires ravaged the state last year. Earlier this year, Verizon released another spot that showcased actual Verizon customers talking about why they loved the service. “We don’t feed one line of copy to any of those customers,” said Scotti.

Verizon’s Pride campaigns from this year and last are another example of this tactic. Last year, their spot people calling their parents or family members on their phones to come out to them. This year, the ad is something of a continuation: It shows people whose family members initially had a negative reaction to them coming out, and now, they’re reconnecting over the phone to apologize and start fresh. The tagline at the end of the spot reads, “It’s never too late to call back.”

“It’s almost like a back-to-basics approach to creativity in the sense of creating the stories that are really based on authenticity, are really engaging and leverage creative collaborations collaborations as a means of getting to those stories as well,” Scotti added of the company’s current approach to creative.

This commitment to authentic marketing is just one of the changes Verizon is currently going through during its period of overall “deep transformation … from telecommunications company to technology company,” explained Scotti. Today, the company’s focus is centered on two elements: trust and innovation.

That shift is part of why he felt it was so important to attend Cannes Lions this year.

“Of course we need to sell phones and broadband plans,” said Scotti. “But if you’re going to stand for trust and innovation, we really need to change the way we connect with our consumers.”

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