Ameritech last week opened a home page on the World Wide Web (http://www.ameritech.com), providing information about the company for customers and investors; news releases; descriptions of Ameritech products; and links to other Web sites.
Ameritech also last week broke a corporate ad campaign demonstrating how closely the company listens to consumers when it develops new technologies.
Both the campaign and the Internet home page were created by Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis, which handles Ameritech's estimated $20 million corporate and enhanced business services accounts. Fallon opened its own home page last year, showcasing its work for clients, including Ameritech.
"The Internet is another way of getting information to people. Our goal is to have some two-way dialogue with customers, while letting them use the format to get as much or as little information as they want about our products and services," said Ken Hildreth, Ameritech's manager of electronic communications.
Fallon-owned Joe Duffy Design created the site's look.
Currently, Ameritech offers only information about its array of services; there is no purchasing or order-taking capability.
"Eventually we will sell our products and services on the Internet, but such systems to provide transactions that are efficient and secure are not yet in place," Mr. Hildreth said.
Ameritech joins a growing list of telecommunications companies establishing home pages on the Web. AT&T, MCI Communications Corp. and Sprint already have a presence there, and Bell Atlantic Corp. is among Baby Bells preparing to open a site.
For the ad campaign, Ameritech merges the folksy with the futuristic. Three 30-second spot TV commercials-reminiscent of AT&T's "You will" campaign-are airing in the company's five-state Midwest region.
One spot shows two men sitting in a coffee shop talking about fishing as they critique a telephone computer they're testing at their table.
"Darn buttons are too small," observes one of the men as he taps in commands to check fishing conditions at Turtle Lake during a call from his brother-in-law. Then, he asks: "Anyone know how to make this thing stop flashing 12:00?"
A voice-over answers: "We believe that if technology doesn't work for people it doesn't work."
Two other spots detail Ameritech's work on interactive video and on studying consumer response to new technologies.
The idea for the campaign came from feedback that revealed consumers are inundated-and often frustrated-with the onslaught of new technologies arriving in the marketplace.
"Consumers have a lot of fear about the incredible pace technology is taking, and with this campaign we're going in new directions to help people feel less overwhelmed and intimidated by the high-tech movement," said Maggie Shea, Ameritech's brand development manager.
Fallon executives said the campaign may migrate to the Internet site, but Ameritech could not confirm those plans.
Most of the technologies showcased in the campaign are not yet available. But Ameritech is heavily involved in the development and marketing of a growing array of high-tech products, including wireless digital communicators, pagers, cellular phones and computers; it also markets Internet software.
"Most consumers aren't techno-nerds," said Fred Senn, a partner at Fallon. "They don't care about the gadget itself; they just want to know how to use necessary technology to get where they're going, and we have to show how Ameritech is helping people do that."