Avaya ads unveil new tech player

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Avaya Communication, an $8 billion supplier of business communications systems, unveiled a $60 million global ad campaign intended to quickly flag its new name as a unique brand in a hyper-competitive market.

The five-month effort, created by FCB Worldwide, San Francisco, broke Sept. 3 on network football broadcasts. The ad launches Avaya, the former Enterprise Networks Group of Lucent Technologies, into the network communications market.

The push begins as Avaya is slated for spinoff from Lucent on Sept. 30, just prior to its becoming a legal entity on Oct. 2. Avaya was born in late June after incubating several months under the code name "NewCo." Landor Associates, San Francisco, created the name.


Avaya plans to tap its Lucent and Bell Labs' heritage to make an impact in a crowded field of contenders, each racing to "own" a piece of the hot Internet networking market.

"We can work across many different systems and networks to effectively communicate between the customer and their customers," said Paul J. Myer, VP-marketing for Avaya. "We are attempting to build on our very strong reputation and reliability in the voice area. . . . We can apply those skills to a whole variety of technology solutions," Mr. Myer said.

As a provider of broadband communications systems, integration and Internet networking services to Fortune 500 companies and government agencies, Avaya competes against technology giants such as Alcatel, Cisco Systems, Nortel Networks and Siemens.

The initial :30 spot, "Yop," features animated talking heads depicted in a post-modern yet primitive style. One head emits the sound "Yup." Then other heads pop up, as if representing individuals speaking with different accents. They attempt to utter the word until it evolves into one with a new pronunciation, "Yop." At the end of the spot, all the heads say "Yop" in unison.

Titles read: "Companies. Customers. Systems. Networks. Now they're talking." The campaign tagline is "Communication without boundaries." Picasso Pictures, London, created the animation.

Spots are slated to run in heavy rotation on prime-time shows including the premiere of NBC's "West Wing." The creative concept was unveiled this spring when FCB won the Avaya account in a presentation that began with a Bible passage about the Tower of Babel. With Avaya's technology, people would once again be able to communicate without barriers.


Avaya provides "the next evolution of human communications technology; it's primal and pure and goes back to the earliest communications," said Mark Lantz, senior-VP, director of planning at FCB.

Avaya chose the approach because the airwaves are cluttered with technology advertising, Mr. Myer said.

Geoff Thompson, FCB Worldwide creative director, noting the creative approaches of Cisco Systems and Nortel Networks, said of the Avaya work: "It's not the usual collection of U.N. kids with uplifting music."

Cisco, in fact, in October will drop its approach and long-running tagline "Are you ready?" to launch a fresh corporate brand effort from agency GMO/Hill, Holliday, San Francisco.

Avaya print ads break Sept. 5 in USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and about a dozen business magazines. Online ads also are planned, and the company is mulling the possibility of radio.Outside the U.S., the effort will include airport dioramas, print, outdoor, online ads and possibly TV.

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