The "Chatsford Stories" campaign, from Merkley Newman Harty, New York, features a fictional BellSouth employee named Tyler making the rounds of the equally fictional town of Chatsford.
In various humorous interactions with the locals, Tyler introduces a variety of BellSouth residential and business services.
The TV spots are meant to even the playing field between BellSouth and AT&T, said Jane Newman, Merkley's director of strategic planning.
AT&T WAS BENEFITING
Although BellSouth saw a 25% increase in its business last year under a previous Merkley-created campaign, the agency's research found AT&T also got a significant benefit from the ads. Market research found the more the advertising promoted telecommunications capabilities, the more likely it was to benefit AT&T, Ms. Newman said.
"If we kept that strategy, all we could do was be as good as AT&T," she said, so Merkley's planners came up with a strategy highlighting relationships between customers and the company.
The spots use the tagline "Nobody knows a neighbor like a neighbor" to emphasize BellSouth is a local company that can serve local residents as valued customers, Ms. Newman said.
Two 60-second commercials broke late last month and two others break this week in spot markets throughout nine Southern states, reaching 20% of the country.
In one spot already airing, a workaholic boss sees how BellSouth can help his assistant work-even on his wedding day. In the other, Tyler visits a school's career day, where the kids are more interested in whether he drives the repair truck.
The two commercials breaking this week promote foreign-language operators and small-business services. In one, Tyler welcomes a German family, and in the other he mediates between a father and son over the son's joining the family hardware store.
Additional executions will also feature BellSouth mobile phone services, Ms. Newman said.
Print and outdoor executions-some featuring a map of Chatsford-will break in