One of my favorite television commercials running now is a new ad for the cell phone company Alltel meant to promote a basketball-themed sweepstakes. The ad is the latest in a popular campaign by Campbell-Ewald Advertising. The campaign features an Alltel salesman named “Chad” and his friends, salesmen from the other national wireless carriers.
In the spot, we meet Chad on the basketball court where he and NBA great Clyde Drexler are choosing teammates for a game of pick-up basketball. Chad has made his last pick and Drexler is left to chose from Chad’s friends, the nerdy, but lovable salesmen from AT&T, Sprint, T-Mobile.
Instead, we’re surprised when Drexler chooses an elderly man named Augie who is seated on the bench and who moves around with the help of a walker. The Sprint guy offers the punch line: “That walker’s not even legal!” Clearly, the message is that anyone is better than AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile, right?
But wait a minute, where is the salesman for Verizon Wireless? The Verizon guy is missing from the cast. Of course we’re not supposed to notice. But what we’re seeing is the beginning of the end of the well regarded Alltel campaign and probably the Alltel brand itself.
Last month, you’ll recall that Verizon purchased Alltel for $28.1 billion. Given the relatively low level of brand equity in the Alltel name, Verizon will likely retire the brand, but not before the end of the NCAA basketball season. (Alltel is a major sponsor of regional telecasts of both the popular Atlantic Coast and Southeastern conferences.)
In my view, the brand team at Verizon is doing a masterful job of beginning the transition of the Alltel brand into that of Verizon Wireless.
Blogger WesleyElsberry recommends that the Verizon should retire the Chad ads with one last commercial where the Verizon character, played by actor Matthew Brent, would close his cell phone, and get to tell Chad, “The merger’s done. You work for me now, Chad”
I doubt that will happen.
Nor do I think we’ll see the Chad character meet up with the “Can You Hear Me Now?” dude who stars in Verizon’s ads.
Instead, look for Verizon to run a simply, “Alltel is now part of Verizon Wireless” campaign. (Wells Fargo Bank is taking this approach as they retire the Wachovia name.) If I had to guess, I’d bet Chad will go the way of the Sprint guy with the overcoat.
But before Chad leaves us, I like to remember this episode of a web only ad run by Alltel. Enjoy.
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