BellSouth Yellow Pages recast as virtual store

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They're not whistling Dixie anymore down at BellSouth Corp.

The telecommunications giant is breaking a new consumer campaign this week for its on- and off-line Real Yellow Pages directory. But this latest push will not feature TV actress Dixie Carter, who had been the brand's spokeswoman for the last four years.


WestWayne created the campaign featuring the "Designing Women" star in collaboration with Burkhardt & Hillman, New York. This time around, Atlanta-based WestWayne is on its own.

"We are calling it the big yellow database," said Luke Sullivan, WestWayne's chief creative officer. "They are online, and they also have the big book. The final tagline that we came up with is `The original search engine.' It's a neat way to update the book with an `e' word."

According to Competitive Media Reporting, BellSouth spent $6.2 million in measured media on its Real Yellow Pages in 1999 and $7.9 million on Internet promotions, including promotion for online directory

Mr. Sullivan said research indicated the Real Yellow Pages' biggest competitor, besides the Internet, is one-stop shopping stores such as Home Depot. Agency copywriter Scott Biear and art director Clay Davies, along with Mark Bhicoine, BellSouth's advertising manager, then came up with the notion of representing the directory as a virtual "MegaStore."

"The TV spots bring the book to life," said Alan Blount, corporate assistant VP-advertising at BellSouth. "The viewer experiences each `idea' as it springs from the aisles in the MegaStore."


The MegaStore campaign launches with three 30-second TV ads. In one, a bride-to-be and her parents shop the MegaStore for wedding ideas. They keep adding items to their shopping cart. The father, worried about his wallet, stops at the "loans" section of the store.

In another spot, a young couple tries to buy a puppy in a MegaStore. The dog jumps from their arms and dashes down the MegaStore's aisles but is stopped when it runs into the "fences" department.

In the third spot, a donut devotee wanders into the "mirrors" aisle and, catching a glimpse of his girth, heads to the "quick shape-ups" section. In the end, he spots a doughnut vendor and gives up on the weight-loss regimen.

The new campaign targets a younger demographic than the previous Dixie Carter approach. "We got to a point where we needed to change our direction," said Brad Davis, director of marketing at BellSouth. "We wanted to appeal more to a slightly younger target group, increase our relevance and increase our contemporariness."


WestWayne has had the Yellow Pages account for 30 years. Mr. Sullivan said the original idea for the Dixie Carter creative came out of Burkhardt. "We had the account and placed media and did strategy. Four or five years ago, before I got here, that arrangement was made. Now we have a new arrangement."

"In today's world," Mr. Sullivan added philosophically, "people change campaigns like their underwear. Dixie had a good, long run."

TV spots begin airing today, during "Today," "Good Morning America" and "Entertainment Tonight" in Augusta, Ga.; Baton Rouge, La.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Greensboro, N.C.; Jacksonville, Fla.; Montgomery, Ala.; and Nashville, Tenn.

The campaign also includes radio, out-of-home and print advertising. Spread ads will run in Baby Talk, Ebony, Inc. and Modern Bride.

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