Ad agency's phone spots push the envelope

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A TONGUE-IN-CHEEK b-to-b telemarketing campaign that ran in April from Hammerhead Advertising turned the idea of cold calling on its head. The boutique ad agency based in Hoboken, N.J., wanted to reach marketing VPs to generate new business and create awareness, so it created three 60-second telephone "spots" designed to stand out. Based on some responses, Hammerhead hit its mark, while others cried foul. The spots-delivered in the middle of the night so that they would likely go into voicemail-sound like a conversation already in progress. The recipient hears Hammerhead's new-business development executive, Mark Rowe, asking the receptionist to be connected to the VP-marketing, and in each of the three spots, things go awry. In one spot, the receptionist makes a matchmaking attempt as Rowe uncomfortably stammers his way through the call, leaving a message in which he manages to use the agency name numerous times and recites its phone number twice. "Security" and "Laxative Chocolate" take a similar tack, with rude or incompetent receptionists obscuring the path to the marketing VP. The three spots were delivered to 500 CMOs and senior marketing executives on their direct-dial phone numbers over a two-week period. "People have either been loving them or calling up and saying, `Get me off your list," Rowe said. He added the company had 10 or 11 calls from people who wanted off the list. Despite that minority, John Perls, partner and creative director of Hammerhead, said the spots show off the agency's creative wares. "It flexes our creative and tactical muscle," he said.-Carol Krol

DHL LAUNCHED A WORLDWIDE ad campaign to promote its product placement in Paramount Pictures' "Mission: Impossible III," which debuts in theaters May 5. In the film, Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise), uses a DHL delivery truck to help accomplish his mission. During filming, DHL also served as Paramount's official shipping and logistics partner. "Just like for Ethan Hunt, the hero of `Mission: Impossible,' our work was often a race against time," said Dirk Ravensteiner, the DHL customer service manager responsible for logistics for "Mission: Impossible III," in a news release. "Such a production requires very specific know-how, together with the right can-do spirit." In the ad campaign, which is running on prime-time TV shows on ABC, NBC, Fox and TNT, a DHL courier makes a parachute jump from a DHL plane to deliver his package (the film) to a waiting crowd. DHL is also advertising its promotional tie-in on billboards in Los Angeles and New York. DHL wants this branding campaign to position it as the shipper that can make "the impossible possible." "The spirit of this film is one of the ways we have been instilling the values of a customercentric culture within our employee population to help them do whatever it takes to make our customers successful," said John Pearson, exec VP-commercial for DHL.-Kate Maddox

A FLORIDA DESIGN COMPANY has created a new ad platform for marketers: sand sculptures. Team Sandtastic, Sarasota, was founded by sand sculptor Mark Mason after he competed in the Sand-Blast art contest in his hometown of Fort Lauderdale. His company employs four sand sculptors, who create designs out of sand for clients in retail, education, hospitality, entertainment and corporate marketing. The sculptures can be as small as tabletop pieces or as large as outdoor sculptures requiring more than 1,000 tons of sand. The sculptures are built using only sand and water, with no cement or fixatives. Team Sandtastic has created corporate logos and designs out of sand for clients including Beneficial Financial Group, Loews Resort South Beach and Walt Disney Co.-Kate Maddox

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