"We're very robust in data and in information technology solutions, but people think of us as the old telephone company," said William Pate, BellSouth VP-advertising and public relations. "Often, we're not even asked to the table [by businesses seeking communications solutions]. It's a perception problem, but perception is nine-tenths of the law."
Like most Baby Bells, BellSouth in recent years has built extensive data capabilities in an effort to round out its service offerings and grow its revenue base. Today, the company offers services including e-commerce, Web hosting, network management and high-speed Internet access.
The new print campaign, created by WestWayne, Atlanta, starts by highlighting BellSouth's e-business capabilities, Mr. Pate said. He said he expects the category of data services to get a more concentrated marketing effort over the next three years.
Spending was undisclosed. The company spent $136 million last year on advertising, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
BellSouth is also hoping the push will open doors to business leaders looking for technological expertise.
The campaign targets what Mr. Pate called the "O's;" CEOs, CIOs, CFOs and other high-level decision-makers. BellSouth initially hopes to reach chief financial officers and chief information officers at larger companies, but believes the message is valid for small business too.
"BellSouth is known as the reliable telephone company, but not the most aggressive in data services and information technology," said Scott Hagedorn, WestWayne senior planner on the BellSouth account. "But in reality they are very aggressive."
SAVING TIME AND RESOURCES
The effort illustrates how decision-makers can save time and resources with BellSouth. One ad is headlined, "Your server has unexpectedly quit. So has your IT guy."
Additionally, the work speaks to the traditional chief information officer, whose role is expanding beyond managing networks and computer staffers. That newly busy executive may be looking for outside expertise, Mr. Hagedorn said.
Mr. Pate said the campaign is designed to let potential business customers know BellSouth understands the challenges they face. This newest facet is a