Cingular Wireless Launches 'Emotional' Ad Campaign

By Dan McDonough, Jr.

Wireless NewsFactor

Cingular is advertising during the Super Bowl and shows like ‘Survivor’ — reasoning that an ’emotional bond’ with consumers will give them an edge.

Related StoriesCingular Wireless launched a broad advertising campaign Sunday at the AFC Championship game of the NFL. The company said its campaign highlights the importance of self-expression.

Cingular said its multimedia campaign will be seen nationally in both broadcast and cable television, newspapers, magazines, outdoor advertising, radio, point-of-sale, direct mail, online and more.

“We have 20 million existing customers and 211 million potential customers we want to introduce ourselves to,” said Cingular president and chief executive officer Stephen Carter.

A few of the major outlets for the new Cingular ads include network advertising during Super Bowl XXXV and during the new “reality TV” show, “Survivor: The Australian Outback”; and print ads in both The Wall Street Journal and USA Today.

This is the first advertising campaign created for Cingular by ad agencies BBDO New York and BBDO South since they were awarded the account in October 2000.

Breaking from the Pack

“Wireless is evolving into a more emotional category,” said Cingular wireless chief marketing officer Virginia Vann. “Choosing a wireless carrier will become more of a branded decision as technologies blur and purchases are rooted in deals… We see an opportunity to separate ourselves from the pack by being the first company to emotionally bond with our consumers.”

The Cingular logo, which looks like a dotted “x,” is transformed into an animated character in the ads. The lifelike logo appears at the end of all television commercials and print advertisements.

“We had a very clear positioning. Our challenge was to create advertising that could break through the blur of sameness in the category,” said BBDO New York co-chief executive and chief creative officer Ted Sann. He said all the ads end with the statement, “What do you have to say?”

Making an Investment Pay Off

Cingular launched its ad campaign shortly after it spent big bucks for wireless spectrum in the recent U.S. Federal Communications Commission (FCC) airwave auctions.

By mid-December, Salmon PCS, a Cingular company, had bid for a total of 60 licenses — the most by any company. Early on, Salmon PCS ranked second, offering a total of US$72.3 million for licenses.

And Los Angeles seems to be a place where Cingular wants to grow. The FCC said that both Salmon and Verizon Wireless each bid $25.5 million for licenses in the lucrative Los Angeles market.

Atlanta-based Cingular is a joint venture of 11 brands of SBC Communications (NYSE: SBC) and BellSouth (NYSE: BLS).

BBDO is the third-largest global agency network. In 1999, the agency reported more than $13.5 billion in worldwide billings from 297 offices in 74 countries.