Wieden + Kennedy Waxes Metaphorical in First Full Campaign for Verizon

12 ads make the case for quality

Headshot of Patrick Coffee

Verizon recently surprised many in the agency world by signing Wieden + Kennedy as its newest creative partner without launching a formal review. And this week, after introducing a sleeker logo, America's leading wireless provider debuted "Better Matters," the first full campaign from the agency.

The theme of this work is ambitious and suggests only Verizon can fully deliver on "the promise of the digital world." Its central analogy, illustrated with a series of colorful metaphors in a dozen ads from W+K's creative team, holds that a higher-quality network leads to a better quality of life, especially when it comes to everyday convenience.

One scene in the first ad highlights a frustrated man whose wireless connection "only works in one corner of the house." The message is clear: Verizon's product is simply better than its competitors.

Regarding the launch spot, Wieden + Kennedy creative directors Aaron Allen and Jason Kreher told Adweek via email, "Everyone in this category has invented a claim to make it sound like they are the best. But when you are the leader like Verizon is, you have the opportunity to talk to people on a higher level. It was important to us to rise above the bickering of this category and stand for something bigger."

The next set of :30 ads elaborates on that theme with an assortment of self-described experts, who let consumers know exactly how a "better" network operates compared to inferior rivals.

In "Scuba," a French instructor compares the flow of wireless data to that of oxygen through a series of tubes. (Note the all-important "do not attempt" disclaimer.)

Next, a woman who may be a little too passionate about her juicing hobby elaborates (in her own unnerving way) on the benefits of Verizon's 100 percent LTE or "long-term evolution" technology.

In the following spot, an unnamed high schooler joins forces with Spandau Ballet to compare Verizon's ultra-reliable network to the untouchable magnetism of ultimate 80s couple Corey and Samantha, who always seem to attract attention without even trying.

Another spot invokes Wall-E in answering an eternal question: What is a cartoon door without a group of animated, lemming-like humanoids trying to squeeze through it?

Following that star turn, the campaign uses several other inanimate objects and a paper lizard in a series of :15 spots.

First comes the abnormally large basketball hoop.

An hourglass can also do the job with a little help from its archenemy, the cylinder.

What better way to explain how data (or, in this case, liquid) moves most effectively from one point to the next by traveling in a straight line than with a crazy straw?

The next take is particularly topical given McDonald's newfound dedication to cage-free eggs.

Just like this lizard and its paper tail, Verizon always has a backup generator ready in case things start to go wrong.

Finally, as if to cover all possible bases, the campaign turns to two star athletes for their own versions of the operative metaphor.

Backup Saints quarterback Luke McCown brings a new perspective (literally) to the smartphone experience, while Texans defensive end and Men's Health cover model J.J. Watt keeps working hard, even when no one can see him doing it. If a tree falls in the forest, J.J. Watt definitely makes a sound.

The larger claim—which is impossible for anyone with a pulse to miss—is that Verizon's network allows for a more unencumbered flow of data than those of its competitors. With Sprint focusing on price as a differentiator and AT&T releasing ads to highlight its recent merger with DirecTV and its efforts to curb the texting-while-driving epidemic, Verizon hopes that this message will resonate with consumers who rely on that all-important wireless data in almost every moment of their lives.

The new campaign and logo are part of an extended attempt to plot the present and future course of a company that would like to be all things to all people, including AOL members. Svp of brand creative marketing Melissa Garlick says, "Instead of trying to talk to different types of people all at once, we found a dozen different ways to explain how Verizon has a better network, and why better matters."

Creative directors Allen and Kreher echoed that message, telling Adweek, "The challenge was explaining some pretty dry facts in a way that would resonate." The varied nature of this campaign "ensured that production would be a huge challenge, but it resulted in a ton of good work that helps Verizon stand out from the competition."

The ads above are not W+K's first work for Verizon. Some of the agency's spots released earlier in the summer—like this one starring a very sad dog—focused more on the economics of Verizon's service package. But the "Better Matters" campaign will be the client's most notable marketing effort, with ads airing during this fall's biggest events including NFL and college football games throughout the coming season.

While Verizon still includes mcgarrybowen, which created recent wireless campaigns starring James Franco, on its agency roster, Wieden + Kennedy's tenure as the company's lead creative partner effectively begins with this campaign.

CREDITS

Client: Verizon   

Title: "Better Matters"  

 

Agency: Wieden + Kennedy Portland

Creative Directors: Aaron Allen, Jason Kreher   

Copywriter: Alex Romans, Nathaniel Lawlor   

Art Director: Tim Semple, Ruth Belloti   

Producer: Hayley Goggin, Endy Hedman   

Strategic Planning: Amber Higgins, Anibal Casso   

Media/Comms Planning: Kelly Muller, Kelsey Dean   

Account Team: Trish Adams, Diana Gonzalez, Marcelina Ward   

Business Affairs: Anna Beth Nagel, Laura Caldwell   

Project Management: Liza Robbins   

Executive Creative Directors: Joe Staples / Mark Fitzloff   

Head of Production: Ben Grylewicz 

Production Company: Arts & Sciences   

Director: Matt Aselton   

Executive Producer: Marc Marnie   

Line Producer: Zoe Odlum   

Director of Photography: Toby Irwin 

Editorial Company: Joint Editorial   

Editor: Tommy Harden   

Post Producer: Jen Milano   

Post Executive Producer: Leslie Carthy 

VFX Company: The Mill   

2D Lead: Robin McGloin   

2D artists: Scott Wilson, Alex Candlish, Jeff Langlois   

Lead Design+Animation: Justin Sucara   

Senior Executive Producer: Sue Troyan   

Pr VFX Producer: Kiana Bicoy   

Production Coordinator: Jillian Lynes

Composer: Alison Ables  

Sound Designer: Noah Woodburn

Mix Company: Eleven  

Mixer: Jeff Payne  

Producer: Suzanne Hollingshead 

Title: "Door," "Lizard," "Egg"

Agency: Wieden + Kennedy Portland

Creative Directors: Aaron Allen, Jason Kreher  

Copywriter: Claire Wyckoff (Door, Lizard); Matt Skibiak (Egg)  

Art Director: Chuck Carlson (Door, Lizard); Nicole Blauw (Door, Lizard); Nate Nowinowski (Egg)  

Producer: Jennifer Hundis, Felicia Glover  

Strategic Planning: Amber Higgins, Zack Jerome  

Media/Comms Planning: Kelly Muller, Kelsey Dean  

Account Team: Trish Adams, Diana Gonzalez, Marcelina Ward  

Business Affairs: Laura Caldwell (Door); Anna Beth Nagel (Lizard, Egg)  

Project Management: Liza Robbins  

Executive Creative Directors: Joe Staples / Mark Fitzloff  

Head of Production Ben Grylewicz Production Company: Buck  

Director: Ryan Honey (Door, Lizard, Egg); Kevin Walker (Door); Gunnar Pettersson (Lizard); Jenny Ko (Egg)  

Executive Producer: Maurie Enochson  

Line Producer: Matt Squires (Egg)  

Director of Photography: Jonpaul Douglass (Egg)

Editorial Company: Buck  

Editor: Buck  

Post Producer: Emily Rickard  

Post Executive Producer: Maurie Enochson

VFX Company: Buck  

VFX Supervisor: Doug Wilkinson (Door, Lizard, Egg); Alex Dingfelder (Lizard)  

VFX Producer: Emily Rickard

Music+Sound Company: Mutato + LIME   

Composer: Mark Mothersbaugh  

Sound Designer: Rohan Young  

Song: "Blissful Driving Experience"  

Producer: Natalie Montogomery

Music+Sound Company: Pivot  

Sound Designer: Rohan Young  

Producer: Susie Boyajan/Guy Amitai

Mix Company: LIME  

Mixer: Rohan Young  

Producer: Susie Boyajan  

Title: "Backup QB," "Juice," "It Couple," "Scuba"

Agency: Wieden + Kennedy Portland

Creative Directors: Aaron Allen, Jason Kreher 

Copywriter: Brooke Barker (Backup QB, Juice, It Couple); Alex Romans (Scuba) 

Art Director: Susan Land (Backup, QB, Juice, It Couple, Scuba); John Dwight (Scuba) 

Producer: Shannon Worley, Felicia Glover

Strategic Planning: Amber Higgins, Zack Jerome 

Media/Comms Planning: Kelly Muller, Kelsey Dean 

Account Team: Trish Adams, Diana Gonzalez, Marcelina Ward 

Business Affaires: Teresa Lutz 

Project Management: Liza Robbins 

Executive Creative Directors: Joe Staples / Mark Fitzloff 

Head of Production: Ben Grylewicz

Production Company: Imperial Woodpecker

Director: Stacy Wall

Executive Producer: Doug Halbert

Line Producer: Terri Shafirov

Director of Photography: Ellen Kuras

Editorial Company: Rock Paper Scissors

Editor: Grant Surmi

Assistant Editor: Ben Reesing

Post Producer: Ashley Bartell

Post Executive Producer: Angela Dorian

VFX Company: a52

Lead Flame Artist: Andy Bate, Stefan Gaillot

Flame Artist: Matt Sousa

Flame Assistant: Gabe Sanchez

Post Producer: Zach Wakefield

Music+Sound Company: Original music by Human

Producer: Jonathan Sanford

Music+Sound Company: tonefarmer

Composer: Jimmy Harned

Producer: Liz Higgins

Sound Company: Lime Studios

Sound Designer: Dave Wagg

Assistant: Adam Primack

Producer: Susie Boyajan

Mix Company: Lime Studios

Mixer: Zach Fisher

Producer: Susie Boyajan

Assistant: Kevin McAlpine    

Title: "Hourglass," "Basketball," "Straw"

Creative Directors: Aaron Allen, Jason Kreher

Copywriter: Claire Wyckoff, Alex Romans (Straw)

Art Director: Chuck Carlson, Nicole Blauw, Robbie Rane (Straw)

Producer: Jennifer Hundis, Erin Goodsell, Felicia Glover

Strategic Planning: Amber Higgins, Zack Jerome

Media/Comms Planning: Kelly Muller, Kelsey Dean

Account Team: Trish Adams, Diana Gonzalez, Marcelina Ward

Business Affairs: Anna Beth Nagel

Project Management: Liza Robbins

Executive Creative Directors: Joe Staples / Mark Fitzloff

Head of Production: Ben Grylewicz

Production Company: Hornet

Director: Lernert & Sander

Executive Producer: Hana Shimizu

Line Producer: David Marks

Director of Photography: Aaron Platt

Editorial Company: Hornet

Editor: Anita Chao

Post Producer: Desiree Stavracos

Post Executive Producer: Hana Shimizu

VFX Company: Hornet

VFX Supervisor: Arman Matin

VFX Producer: Desiree Stavracos

Music+Sound Company: PIVOT, Barking Owl

Composer: Pivot + Barking Owl

Producer: Guy Amitai

Mix Company: LIME

Producer: Susie  Boyajan

Title: "The Network of J.J. Watt"

Agency: Wieden + Kennedy New York

Executive Creative Directors: Mark Fitzloff, Joe Staples

Creative Directors: Sean McLaughlin, John Parker

Creative Directors: Aaron Allen, Jason Kreher

Creative Directors: Stuart Jennings, Caleb Jensen

Copywriter: Eric Helin

Art Director: Erwin Federizo

Head of Content Production: Nick Setounski

Broadcast Producer: Orlee Tatarka

Digital Producer: Mutaurwa Mapondera

Print Producer: Kristen Althoff

Print Traffic Coordinator: Shane Thompson

Studio Manager: Jill Kearton

Brand Strategist: Marshall Ball

Account Team: Trish Adams, Samantha Wagner, Kristen Herrington, Jasmine Cogdell

Media Director: David Stopforth

Communications Planners: Courtney Bernstein, Kelsey Dean

Project Manager: Alex Doomany

Broadcast Traffic Director: Sonia Bisono

Broadcast Traffic Manager: Carolina Hernandez

Business Affairs Managers: Patrick O'Donohue, Lindsey Timko

Production Company: Arts & Sciences

Director: Matt Aselton

Executive Producer/COO: Mal Ward

Executive Producer: Marc Marrie

Line Producer: Zoe Odlum

Director of Photography: Ulrik Boel Bentzen

Editorial Company: Arcade Editorial

Editor: Jeff Ferruzzo

Post Producer: Lauren Cancelosi

Editorial Assistant: Mark Popham

VFX Company: The Mill

VFX Flame: John McIntosh and Molly Intersimone 

Producer: Clairellen Wallen, Georgina Castle

Telecine Company: The Mill

Colorist: Fergus McCall

Mix Company: Sound Lounge

Mixer: Glen Landrum

Music: Able Baker


@PatrickCoffee patrick.coffee@adweek.com Patrick Coffee is a senior editor for Adweek.