Following a 2020 rebrand that saw UScellular update its logo for the first time in 20 years, the country’s fourth-largest carrier today unveils a new masterbrand direction and accompanying ad campaign that seeks to position it as the premier local-first cell service provider in the U.S.
(Formerly styled as U.S. Cellular, the Chicago-based carrier tweaked its brand identity and logo last September to emphasize the “US” portion of its name in a creative move handled by MullenLowe.)
Now operating under the slogan “America’s locally grown wireless,” the company tapped Droga5 to lead the creative charge on its new masterbrand platform, which will make its public debut via an integrated multi-channel campaign that pays homage to the company’s local roots while noting its place at the forefront of today’s telecom innovations, such as the rollout of 5G technology. The effort paints the company as a champion for areas that can sometimes be on the back-burner for the “Big Three” U.S. cell carriers: AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile.
The strategy is "reframing UScellular’s regional nature as a strength and really highlighting how its closeness to communities is creating better service,” says Karen Land Short, executive creative director at Droga5.
The brand’s latest refresh is anchored by a 60-second film showing a technician climbing a cell tower, walking viewers through the locally-focused benefits of UScellular as she ascends. Starting from the vision of founder Roy Carlson, who saw “nothing but potential” in America’s small towns.
“Here’s the thing: When you create a network as a local, you know the dead spots, so you fix them,” says the actress portraying the UScellular technician in the spot as she climbs through different layers of the tower. “You know the neighbors, so you’re good to them. You know the local neighborhood, so you make a difference.”
The “America’s Locally Grown Wireless” campaign is the first work Droga5 has done for the company since landing it as a client late last year, she confirms, and was undertaken in partnership with Accenture Interactive.
A core element of the campaign is reflecting the cell carrier’s internal culture, according to Land Short, who notes UScellular is “really community-focused” and employs more staff in the areas it serves than many rival wireless companies. “They wanted to really be true to who they are,” she says.
The spot closes with a nod that viewers can get the best of both worlds from the carrier: the benefits of a nationwide footprint that’s built on investments in industry-leading technology, including 5G, coupled with the service and attention that’s expected from a locally-grown company.
In addition to that spot, which is also cut in 15- and 30-second versions, the joint Droga5 and Accenture Interactive campaign will encompass social media, radio, activations and out-of-home assets. It is slated to run through the end of June.
“We’re speaking to everyone” with the new ad campaign, says Verchele Roberts, VP of brand management at UScellular. The company has a presence nationwide, from the smallest farming communities to the largest metropolises, she adds, and that diversity of locale will be reflected in the media rollout.
The “America’s Locally Grown Wireless” campaign is “another major installment” in the company’s ongoing brand modernization effort, which has been in the works since the refreshed logo from MullenLowe debuted last year, Roberts says.
She also confirms some “major” buys in the campaign’s future, including a spot during the Academy Awards later this month, but insists UScellular’s community-centric operations will remain foundational to both its marketing and its services. “Local is certainly a mindset as it is a physical location as well,” she says.