Pacific Bell: Charlene Lake

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SBC Communications' Pacific Bell was in the same position as other regulated utilities venturing into the new world of competition. But instead of pitching a conservative product or feature, the company's marketing team came out swinging.

Pacific Bell used a gutsy campaign from Omnicom Group's Goodby, Silverstein & Partners, San Francisco, for the launch of one of its most important new products, DSL Internet. In the acclaimed campaign, which won Best of Show in Advertising Age's 2001 Best Awards, the fictitious Laurel Lane neighborhood is turned into a donnybrook as neighbors compete for an Internet connection. The premise is that the more people using a cable line, the slower their service. Neighbors hurl names such as "Web hog" at each other, and the mail truck is spray-painted "Log off."

"DSL is a critical product to us, and one way to achieve greater advertising advantage is to point out the differences between your product and the consumer's other choices," says Charlene Lake, VP-advertising and sponsorships at SBC. "It's just Advertising 101." Ms. Lake, 40, was born in Kansas and started her career as a reporter for a Topeka newspaper. She joined SBC in 1986 working for the company's employee newspaper. She became director of advertising as the telco was about to launch its first long-distance service.

Feisty advertising isn't without its headaches, however. Cable operators pushed their own efforts, calling telephone DSL installation slow, and registered some complaints about the Pac Bell ads. Awareness of Pac Bell's DSL service jumped so high that customers became unhappy when the company was slow to install the lines when demand increased.

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