Williams Tries to Fix ‘the Nix’

Ackerman McQueen’s National TV Pushes Bosses for Approval
DALLAS–The first national television campaign for Williams Communications began airing last week.
In 10 humorous television spots developed by Ackerman McQueen, enthusiastic corporate underlings whisper the virtues of the telecommunications company in the ears of their impassive bosses to the point of hyperbole or even embarrassment.
One whisperer is enamored of Williams’ bandwidth capabilities.
“They must have these huge bandwidth farms that just spread out across the American Midwest,” he rhapsodizes into the ear of his superior as they sit through a presentation. “Can you see the fields of bandwidth just waving in the wind! It bends, but it doesn’t break!” His boss regally ignores him.
The television campaign marks a strategic shift in the marketing of Williams, a voice, data, Internet and video transmission provider that is part of the $1.7 billion Williams Communications Group.
For four years Williams has advertised on a daily basis in the same position in The Wall Street Journal, as well as in BusinessWeek, in an appeal to the category of consumer the agency calls “the nixer.”
“There are two people involved in every decision,” explained Ackerman senior vice president and creative director Bruce Parks. “The recommender–the MIS guy–and then there’s the nixer, the guy’s boss. Nobody ever got fired for recommending AT&T because everyone’s heard of AT&T. We’ve got to grease the skids for these guys and say it’s okay to go with a company called Williams.”
While the print ads were directed at the “nixers” themselves, the television commercials depict the recommender-nixer relationship directly in a way that delivers a humorous payoff to viewers, according to Parks.
Melanie Hill, executive vice president and management supervisor at the Oklahoma City agency, said the client, based in Tulsa, Okla., “needed to get out there with television” in light of the competitive environment, which includes a host of new entrants in the telecommunications field.
A high-visibility TV campaign could also help bolster the stock of Williams Communications Group, which went public Oct. 1, closing at $28.06 per share.
The fourth-quarter advertising effort will appear on CNN, MSNBC, ESPN and CNBC. K