L.A. QUAKE SPARKS RELATED AD EFFORTS

By Published on .

Even as the aftershocks of the Jan. 17 earthquake continue to rumble through southern California, the local media are carrying a windfall of quake-related advertising.

The insurance industry took out heavy schedules in radio, newspaper and TV to publicize their disaster teams and encourage early filing of claims.

The two major local telephone companies, Pacific Bell and GTE California, also moved quickly. With freeway traffic seriously impaired, both advertised an alternative: telecommuting.

Pacific Bell scooped its rival, starting a telecommuting radio and newspaper effort Jan. 23. The campaign, via Foote, Cone & Belding, San Francisco, and originally set to run through Feb. 17, has been extended one month.

Steve Elston, telecommuting project manager for Pacific Bell, said calls have averaged 250 to 350 per day, with about 30% ordering services.

GTE began advertising on Jan. 26. While it, too, created a hot line, the ads were designed to be "informational, not promotional," a spokesman said. About 200 calls per day have been coming in, he said, with a "take" rate of about 10%.

The GTE campaign, created by DDB Needham Worldwide's Focus group in Dallas, will end in about two weeks. But the spokesman said "we've already started work on a long-term campaign."

Both Pacific Bell and GTE have joined a non-partisan group of government agencies and private businesses called the Southern California Emergency Telecommuting Partnership. The coalition has secured a $1.5 million commitment from the federal government to promote telecommuting.

The 6.6 temblor even moved one area law firm to begin general media ads.

"We try to keep it reasonably dignified," said David G. Epstein, a partner at Kasdan, Simonds, Peterson, McIntyre, Epstein & Martin.

A week after the initial jolt, the firm began running small ads, created in-house, in three area newspapers, the Los Angeles Times, the Daily News and The Outlook.

Under the headline "Earthquake damage," the ad notes, in part: "If your building was constructed within the last 10 years, you may be able to recover for damages, even if your property was not insured for earthquake damage."

Mr. Epstein said the ads have drawn "more than 10 but less than 100 calls."

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