Super Bowl

Verizon, Justin Timberlake Thank First Responders in Super Bowl Spot

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Weather and climate disasters cost more than $306 billion in damages in 2017, according ot the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, making it the costliest year in recorded history. But while the tragedies are splashed all over the news, far less known are the stories of those rescued by first responders, something Verizon highlighted during its first Super Bowl appearance in seven years.

Verizon's connection to the recovery efforts, says Diego Scotti, chief marketing officer at Verizon, is that two-thirds of first responders in America use it to communicate.

"If it is good for first responders, it is good for me," he says.

Verizon showcased its minute-long spot in the game shortly after a 10-second clip that followed the game's halftime show, which included voiceover byJustin Timberlake asking viewers to "remember the first responders who keep us safe every day."

"Answering the Call" used still images to show viewers moments of incredible rescues. The pitch is that when your life's on the line, you don't want a service that just works, but the very best available.

The company worked with McCann New York on the creative. Scotti says its efforts tracking down real-life people who were rescued started off like detective work. "We scoured news articles, TV video from the last 30 years and then we recorded the conversation between first responder and the victim," he says. "The stories are tremendously powerful. For us, there is no better message to reinforce the reliability of the Verizon network."

In one call, a woman named Cedricka calls a firefighter to thank him for saving her from a fire that happened in her apartment building four years ago. "I was pregnant," she says. "She is now four."

The firefighter's response is sure to give most people chills, and Verizon plays on those emotions in an effort to distance itself from the mudslinging that's become all too common with wireless carriers. "It's become a race to the bottom," Scotti says. "We want to elevate the conversation to focus on positive things that are happening."

"We wanted to focus on the power of the spoken word so it's just between the two people having the conversation," says Andrew McKechnie, senior VP and chief creative officer at Verizon. They chose to use still images for its spots because the stories were so raw: "It was very purposeful in letting the voices be front and center so they could narrate. It's much more emotional that way."

McKechnie, who, in his teen years, saved his cousin's life when he was a lifeguard in New Zealand, says he knows well the myriad emotions that one feels when a life is on the line. "It came into play," he says about the spot. "There are these moments where you have to kick into a higher gear and some people, that is what they do every day. Those particular moments really have a lasting impact on you."

McKechnie says all of the calls in the spot occurred within the past six months.

The ad also included a call-out to Verizon's AllOurThanks.com, where people can donate money to the Red Cross, all of which will be matched by Verizon.

"What we've really trying to do is put our efforts in one particular moment in time and get people's attention on this," McKetchine says. "Justin was a natural fit for us and he gives us a great stage to amplify the message more, and to say thanks to our first responders."

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