Verizon is drafting off the chemistry of podcasting buddies Jason Bateman and Sean Hayes in a campaign from new lead consumer agency Ogilvy promoting a trade-in offer around Apple’s just-released iPhone 15 Pro.
Inside Verizon’s comic iPhone 15 Pro campaign with Jason Bateman and Sean Hayes
Under the promotion, new Verizon customers who sign up for the carrier’s Unlimited Ultimate plan (or existing customers adding a new line under that plan) can get the iPhone 15 Pro for free by trading in any old iPhone in any condition.
In a 30-second spot that broke Wednesday, Hayes—proud owner of an impressively damaged iPhone—assumes (wrongly) that his busted-up device could never qualify for the trade-in. So he resorts to desperately wishing for the phone instead, and spoiling a kid’s birthday party along the way, before Bateman yanks him away and explains the offer.
Kristin McHugh, senior VP of marketing and creative at Verizon, told Ad Age that Bateman and Hayes, co-hosts (with Will Arnett) of the popular podcast “SmartLess,” have great cross-demographic appeal—but that Verizon, and the offer itself, had to be the real star of the show.
“We had to make sure we’re hitting multiple things,” she said. “One, making sure Verizon is as compelling as possible and talking about our network. Two, making the promotion very clear, because that’s what customers want—they want this phone and they want it on the best network. And then, doing that in a way that breaks through the clutter at a time when everyone’s talking about the iPhone—which is what led us to the great talent of Jason Bateman and Sean Hayes.”
The spot was directed by Speck & Gordon at Furlined. McHugh said Bateman and Hayes’ chemistry was “undeniable” on set as they created an emotional connection in the spot that dovetails with the product offer.
“They’re engaging a younger demographic with their podcast, and that younger demographic is connecting with them in streaming as well, with ‘Arrested Development’ and ‘Will & Grace,’” she said. “They love those characters in their own right, but bringing them together really creates that magic.”
Along with the general-market “Wishes” spot, Verizon on Friday will release a Spanish-language ad for Hispanic audiences starring J Balvin. In the 30-second spot, the Colombian singer, seen sporting Verizon-red hair in a salon, has also gotten the iPhone trade-in—though the real message is that you don’t need to be a celeb to be treated like one.
McHugh said the Balvin spot, created by The Community and directed by Oz Rodriguez of Caviar, followed the insight that the Latino audience may think these types of offers are reserved for celebrities.
“We wanted to lean into the exciting appeal he has, but also say, this is not just for J Balvin. This is for anyone,” she said. “He is an incredible partner and is super hot right now, with great music coming out.”
The Balvin spot follows a separate AR activation called “Catch My iPhone” that launched last week, also featuring the singer. Created by R/GA, it showed a 300-foot-tall J Balvin walking across the country, introducing people to the iPhone 15 Pro. As part of the experience, fans could learn about its features, pre-order one and also enjoy Balvin’s newly released single “Dientes” featuring Usher and DJ Khaled.
“Catch My iPhone” tapped into Balvin’s crossover appeal and was made for the general market, not just the Hispanic market, McHugh said.
“Something we’ve done over the past few years is, how do we create engagement during [the new iPhone’s] pre-order?” said McHugh. “J Balvin is a great talent with broad appeal, and was it amazing creating a 300-foot version of him. He’s a larger-than-life character, and we were able to really draw people in with the AR experience.”
Verizon will be monitoring a number of metrics as it gauges the success of the new campaign, McHugh said.
“Certainly, business results are paramount,” she said. “Are we driving traffic to the stores and to our digital channels? Are people seeing our spots and are they resonating? We want to make sure they’re feeling something amazing from the brand and that we’re bringing them something new that’s desirable to them.”
“We’ve been working with them over the past few months on consumer, and they were really able to think about what our customers want and bring us creative we think can break through and make that emotional connection,” McHugh said.
She added that Verizon is currently working on ways to tie into the “SmartLess” podcast itself in the coming months. “This was about building the right assets for this campaign first,” she said, “but we’re now looking at how to move forward and connect with that fan base and that audience for the podcast.”