Hand Gestures Speak Volumes
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August 8, 2000, 2000-DUBLIN, OHIO -
Verizon Wireless, the largest wireless company in the United States, has gone retro to again popularize the "V" hand gesture, by having people featured in its national television and print advertising campaign display the non-verbal emblem.
By invoking the "V" in its advertising, Verizon Wireless is suggesting an updated concept of peace and freedom - the freedom to be almost anywhere at anytime and still be able to stay in contact by phone.
To illustrate, or "talk with our hands" during face to face conversations, is an everyday function of non-verbal communications, as common to human interaction as children noticing one another. Hand gestures with distinct meanings are called "emblems," according to Dr. Judith A. Hall, social psychologist and Professor of Psychology at Northeastern University in Boston.
"Emblems are typically used to emphasize a single point," reports Dr. Hall. "Often they're used to overcome distance and noise, allowing people to still inform effectively. Certain emblems are used interchangeably to convey different meanings, but always work nicely in making a point. They supplement language; for example, using the thumbs up sign to mean 'everything is fine'."
Dr. Hall pointed out that the "V" has had significant meaning for a long time in society. Former British Prime Minister Winston Churchill emblazoned for all time the word victory in the minds of the world when he invoked the "V" sign by turning his palm outward and extending his index and middle fingers before a public gathering in 1945.
While the "V" emblem has continued to be useful to political candidates expressing victory (witness its ongoing employment at political rallies and during acceptance speeches), we also know from history that the "V" was adopted and popularized in the '60s by America's Vietnam generation to represent peace. "Churchill made the V emblem famous, but there is no distinction in our culture - the V can represent different things, including victory, peace or freedom," added Dr. Hall.
"Freedom, and the peace of mind it brings people, is the key message in our advertising campaign," reports John Harrobin, Verizon Wireless Marketing Director for Ohio. "Having become a sign for all times, we believe the 'V' conveys a message that Verizon Wireless service allows customers the freedom to travel virtually anywhere, yet maintain contact, which brings a residual peace of mind."
For the most part, society operates with frequent use of socially acceptable emblems, according to Dr. Hall. There are many examples that are widely recognized that when a person views these gestures as written words (see below), a visual picture immediately appears in the mind's eye. Here are a number of examples:
Who knows? As prominent positions in the workplace and in society continue to be filled by Generations X and Y members, perhaps evoking the "V" emblem will eventually be better known as "let's talk on the wireless."
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless is the largest wireless communications provider in the U.S. with more than 25 million wireless voice and data customers and nearly 4 million paging customers. The new coast-to-coast wireless provider was formed by the combination of the U.S. wireless businesses of Bell Atlantic Corp. and GTE Corp --now Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) -- and Vodafone AirTouch Plc (LSE:VOD; NYSE:VOD). The new company includes the assets of Bell Atlantic Mobile, AirTouch Cellular, GTE Wireless, PrimeCo Personal Communications and AirTouch Paging. The new company has a footprint covering nearly 90 percent of the U.S. population, 49 of the top 50 and 96 of the top 100 U.S. markets. Verizon Wireless, headquartered in New York City and Bedminster, NJ, is 30,000 employees strong. Reporters and editors can find more information about the company in its Media Center on the Web at: http://www.verizonwireless.com/mediacenter.
About the Great Lakes Area
The Great Lakes Area of Verizon Wireless is headquartered in Schaumburg, Illinois. The Great Lakes Area includes the Greater Chicago market and Northern and Central Illinois; the Greater Indianapolis market and most of Indiana; the Greater St. Louis and Cape Girardeau markets of Missouri; the Greater Milwaukee, Green Bay and Madison markets and other areas of Wisconsin; Detroit, and Southeast and Central Michigan markets; and the Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland markets and much of Ohio. The Great Lakes Area serves more than 5.6 million customers and has a potential customer base of 41.2 million.