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Breaking from its longtime positioning as the hometown phone company, BellSouth Corp. today dials up a corporate campaign portraying itself as a one-stop telecommunications solutions provider for consumers and businesses.

The effort, using the new tag "BellSouth know-how," is partly a reaction to increased competition from long-distance and wireless companies that have been targeting the Baby Bell's Southeastern turf.

"When you look at the total spectrum of communications, there are competitors in almost every one of those businesses," said William Pate, VP-advertising for BellSouth. "We're trying to communicate we have technical know-how in terms of equipment as well as" people.

"The positioning is trying to broaden" BellSouth's message, said Brian Adamik, senior VP at industry consultancy Yankee Group.

WestWayne, Atlanta, handles the $20 million-plus campaign. Media includes spot TV buys in major Southeastern markets, and network TV, cable and print.


A significant portion of the campaign is aimed at businesses, which have been heavily pitched-and then plucked away-by long-distance providers offering corporate services, Mr. Pate said. BellSouth is trying to communicate to these customers the breadth of its telecom and data services.

"There was a perception we couldn't provide end-to-end solutions," Mr. Pate said.The humorous commercials use a rewind technique to show how BellSouth technology can make a difference. For example, a spot touting e-commerce services starts with a scene of warehouse workers yawning their way through a slow day. The ad then freezes, rewinds and proceeds to show the same employees hustling because online marketing has ignited a sales boom.


This before/after approach will run through the first pool of eight spots for different products and services, including interactive paging and managed network services.

BellSouth "wanted an architecture we could use for different customers," said Luke Sullivan, chief creative director for WestWayne. The ads were partly inspired by the Bill Murray movie "Groundhog Day," about a man who keeps living the same day over and over.

BellSouth plans to nudge ad spending up by 5% this year, Mr. Pate said. The telephone company spent $123 million through November 1998, according to

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