SOUTHWESTERN BELL TOUTS 'FREE' CELLULAR: MARKETERS THAT OFFER WIRELESS 800-SERVICE FEATURED IN CAMPAIGN

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Southwestern Bell Wireless this week breaks ads for a new service that allows cellular phone users to place free 800-number calls.

The less-than-$1 million campaign from GSD&M, Austin, Texas, will include direct mail, newspaper, outdoor and radio, and run initially in the Dallas-Fort Worth market, which boasts about 500,000 wireless users.

Ads feature marketers such as Hilton Hotels, Budget Car & Truck and 1-800-FLOWERS that offer toll-free service to wireless users.

HOW TO MAKE FREE CALLS

To make the free calls, cellular users hit the pound key and then dial the 800-number.

"Airtime expense is a major reason people shy away from wireless phones," said Rodney Schlosser, director of marketing at Southwestern Bell Wireless. "The pound-800 service will let us focus on the convenience aspect of our wireless phones, and our service will become more valuable to subscribers."

Marketers and media companies are excited about the prospect of enhancing direct-response capabilities of outdoor and radio ads.

"When people are sitting in traffic, it's a perfect time for a marketer to urge them to use toll-free cellular to order flowers or make airline reservations, etc.," Mr. Schlosser said. "The advertising will have a direct, immediate and accountable impact on sales."

CAMPAIGN IS JOINT EFFORT

The campaign is a joint effort between Southwestern Bell and Toll Free Cellular, a Seattle start-up company that provides 800-number service to some 14 cellular and wireless carriers nationwide, including AirTouch, AT&T Wireless, GTE Wireless and 360 Communications.

"Our toll-free cellular service will enable direct response organizations to think about using vehicles other than direct mail and TV," said Tim Kregor, VP-marketing at Toll Free Cellular. "Outdoor and radio are low-cost media and they're a great way for marketers to generate leads on impulse phone calls while consumers are commuting to and from work."

Although the start-up hopes to build a nationwide footprint for its pound-800 service, currently it's in only eight markets: Atlanta; Dallas; Las Vegas;

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