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
By Andy Vuong, Staff Writer
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.
"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
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