In the $20 million effort, Ameritech aims to start repositioning itself as a global communications operator rather than a regional Bell telephone company. The campaign is Chicago-based Ameritech's largest corporate effort ever, and its first advertising from newly named Fallon McElligott, Minneapolis.
The ads come as Congress considers regulatory changes that would allow the Baby Bells to enter the long-distance telephone industry, along with other national communications services. Telecommunications industry analysts say other Baby Bells are expected to initiate similar advertising this year.
Ameritech kicks off its effort with a 30-second corporate image spot breaking April 2 in its five-state marketing region. The commercial uses various animals to illustrate humans' unique capabilities to communicate.
That spot will be followed April 9 by another, playing on the theory popularized by the film "Six Degrees of Separation"-that any two people in the world are connected by a chain of no more than six acquaintances. Several more spots will air in April using similar creative approaches to illustrate the importance of communication. All include Fallon's new theme: "Your best link to better communications."
"We want to be a full-service, end-to-end communications provider with global reach, and advertising is one of the tools we're using to sell ourselves to businesses and consumers with that vision," said Mitchell Wienick, president of Ameritech's Small Business Services unit.
As the first Baby Bell to petition regulators for permission to enter the long-distance phone industry last year, Ameritech is aggressively pushing for permission to offer wider services.
"We have a presence, in some form or through a subsidiary, in 41 of 50 states and we intend to rid ourselves of the regional aspect of our business. We are positioning ourselves as a global marketer," said Steve Ford, Ameritech's media relations manager.
The campaign, airing only in Ameritech's home region now, may be expanded to national markets later this year via print advertising, he said.