Telecoms push service

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Telecoms this week take a one-two punch in campaigns marketing networking services to big businesses that want to improve customer interactions. Sprint Corp.'s new E-Solutions unit today breaks an estimated $15 million multimedia effort, while AT&T Corp.'s Business Services on Jan. 16 unveils a new brand position touting its network capabilities in a $50 million integrated marketing campaign.

The high-growth Internet products and services segment is projected to reach $282.5 billion by 2003, according to research firm International Data Corp.

Sprint's campaign, by McCann Relationship Marketing, New York, seeks to differentiate Sprint service offerings from competitors starting with a 4-page insert in The Wall Street Journal. Provocative creative featuring a muscular male back touts the strength of Sprint's network in providing Web-hosting, security and other services. One page of the insert shows a guy at a backyard barbecue illustrating the competitors' hosting services next to Sprint's hosting capabilities depicted by a white-gloved butler holding a silver serving dish.

"There aren't many companies out there today that have true end-to-end services," said Keith Paglusch, president, Sprint E-Solutions.

Embattled AT&T last fall announced its intention to split into four companies; AT&T Business will be one of the four, and the largest with estimated 2000 revenue of $28 billion.

Sprint's E-Solutions division, with projected revenue of $1.2 billion this year, is a fraction of the size of AT&T Business.

Sprint print ads will run in dailies, business magazines and trade publications; a major direct mail component and cable TV spots also are planned.

AT&T's integrated marketing push created by FCB Worldwide, New York, repositions the Business Services unit, now called "AT&T Business," as a one-stop shop for large enterprises seeking network services.

"What we're trying to do is deliver key messages to the marketplace about what AT&T has to offer," said Bill O'Brien, VP-marketing, AT&T Business. The extensive print, interactive, direct and database campaign ties to the company's corporate "Boundless" ad effort by Y&R Advertising, New York.

FCBi, the agency's direct and interactive arm, handled media planning for the effort. Analytici, FCB's database consultancy, is responsible for establishing a closed-loop sales process for AT&T, a crucial part of the program, according to Jeff Tarakajian, president-CEO, FCB, New York.

"The real job that we need to do is to give AT&T Business an identity of its own ... The program is much more than an ad campaign; it's a sales program," Mr. Tarakajian said.

Visually arresting print ads breaking on Tuesday in the Journal, The New York Times and in papers in 18 metro areas showcase AT&T's Internet network services and consulting horsepower, referring to its ability to build and combine data, voice and media networks over 40,000 miles of fiber optic backbone.

The debut ad features a bald guy looking down, his head painted with the blue stripes of AT&T's globe icon. Headline: "The brain is connected to the backbone;" Tagline: "Innovative Networks. Innovative Thinking." Copy refers to AT&T's engineers, consultants and other personnel who support the network, "because even the strongest backbone can't stand alone."

Business leaders are steered to a toll-free number and a dedicated Web site: (www.att.com/business/now).

Besides newspaper ads, print featuring case studies of big AT&T Business customers will run in February in business and trade magazines. Radio is being tested, and TV is possible later in the year.

Even in a slowing economy, the transition from voice to data networks won't necessarily stall, as companies invest in infrastructure changes for the long haul.

"Companies are spending fortunes redesigning the way they interact with their customers," said Jeff Kagan, a telecom industry analyst, adding, "there are always going to be ups and downs, but competition is forcing companies to change the way they deal with customers." Those changes and the growth of data networks require an immense amount of support. "The world of technology and telecommunications has become so confusing and complex that companies need advice," Mr. Kagan said.

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