AUSWR
The Association of U S West Retirees
 

 

 

Qwest's has a new artful marketing campaign
Qwest's artful marketing campaign shows it's thinking outside the sandbox, but is its morphing message ...art for art's sake?
By Andy Vuong, Staff Writer
Denver Post
Friday, January 5, 2007

A small fish morphs into a whale that ultimately turns into a model of the globe.  The transformation occurs during a 30-second TV commercial featuring Ilana Yahav, an artist from Israel who uses just her hands, sand and a light board to create the captivating images.

The spot is part of Qwest's latest marketing campaign.  The transformation is meant to relay the message that Qwest is nimble, responsive and tailored to individual clients.

The Denver-based phone company has experimented with a variety of advertising styles in an effort to appeal to a broader customer base.

"Customers think of us as a local phone company versus a national network provider, which we've been for a number of years," said Stephanie Copeland, vice president of marketing for Qwest.  "We wanted to make sure that the market really understood that we're not just a small business phone company."  The campaign, produced by Durham, N.C.-based ad agency McKinney, has three spots.

A second commercial features two doughnuts that turn into a car, which morphs into an owl.  The third shows a jungle, a lion and then a butterfly.

Marketing experts say the commercials are unique and appealing but don't clearly send the underlying message.

"It's so rich, your eye just travels to it," said Bob Mazerov, principal of Denver-based Mazerov Miller Research & Marketing Strategy.  "But if you had asked who the ads were for, I didn't know they were for Qwest."

The commercials end with the tag line "Get Qwest.  Get nimble.  The choice of 95 percent of Fortune 500 companies."

"I was very intrigued by the way those spots were done artistically," said Bart Cleveland, creative director with McKee Wallwork Cleveland, an advertising agency based in Albuquerque.  "The challenge is, how do you connect that to the brand Qwest?"

The campaign, launched in November, is running in 13 markets, including Denver, and on Frontier Airlines' in-flight TV service.

"If they stay with it and evolve it, then people may start recognizing it as Qwest," Cleveland said.

Mazerov agreed.

"If it is a complement to a campaign that is a little bit more linear, then it can be more successful," he said.

Qwest will launch a related national print campaign in February, although it won't feature the sand art.

The sand-art commercials were filmed in California over two days in August.  Yahav, the artist, said she practiced creating and transforming the images for about a month before flying in for the shoot.

"As an artist, I appreciate it very much when a company such as Qwest recognizes that art is a means to true communication," she said in an interview from Israel on Thursday.

She said the commercials were each done in one continuous shot without any visual edits or special effects.

"I use only my hands, my fingers and my soul," said Yahav, 55, who has worked on the obscure art form for three years and performs shows worldwide.

She has done commercials for a coffee company in Belgrade, Serbia-Montenegro, and a tea company in Moscow.

The Qwest commercials are her first for a U.S. company.

Experts said they couldn't recall another marketing campaign in the country that featured sand art.

Staff writer Andy Vuong can be reached at 303-954-1209 or avuong@denverpost.com.

http://www.denverpost.com/business/ci_4952944