Ex-Doobie McDonald Sings MCI's Praises

'Motown' CD doubles sales on the back of ad campaign

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%%STORYIMAGE_RIGHT%% MCI has reached out to one of the most distinctive voices in pop music, and the effort has made the cash register sing for the artist.

In a campaign for the Neighborhood Plan, an unlimited local and long-distance calling plan, the Ashburn, Va.-based marketer features the husky falsetto of Michael McDonald singing the Motown classic "Ain't No Mountain High Enough" from his new record, "Motown," on Universal Motown Records.

The campaign, which features concert footage as well as a testimonial from the ex-Doobie Brother, has been on the air for three weeks. According to Soundscan data, "Motown" sales have more than doubled since the start of the campaign three weeks ago, to 129,561 from 60,000. The album was released in May.

%%PULLQUOTE_LEFT%% "The media weight from MCI is more than what the label could give him, without a doubt," said Joel Hoffner, one of McDonald's managers at Nashville-based Vector Management. "When you merge television with an extremely familiar voice, personality, and song, you see these kinds of results. Michael is taken aback by all this. He's quite surprised at the immediate swing."

As for MCI, Patty Proferes, senior VP-marketing for the consumer and small business division, said the campaign has also exceeded her expectations in terms of sales volume, which she declined to quantify. "It doesn't have as much brand sell or what we call 'product puke.' In this case, we compromised our typical approach and did less product puke to let music fit into the piece."

Proferes said the notion of unlimited calling fits nicely with the song's theme of emotional attachment to people. "When you're combining Michael McDonald with Motown, that's combustion."

MCI originally worked with McDonald two years ago when it licensed the Doobie Brothers hit "Taking It To The Streets" for a commercial.

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