10.08.1997Corporate

New Bell Atlantic taps Maurice Sendak's

Bell Atlantic guides customers through maze of communications choices using beloved children's characters.

The new Bell Atlantic has tapped Maurice Sendak's 'Wild Things' for the first corporate brand advertising campaign since the merger of Bell Atlantic and NYNEX. The new campaign features the timeless and colorful characters of Maurice Sendak's classic, award-winning children's book Where the Wild Things Are in their first appearance in mass media advertising.

The campaign uses print, broadcast and outdoor media, and will begin Oct. 13 throughout Bell Atlantic's service area, which spans 13 states and the District of Columbia. Teaser ads featuring the "wild things" characters but without the Bell Atlantic brand began appearing Oct. 6 throughout the company's region.

Today's announcement, to be held at the flagship Barnes & Noble bookstore at Union Square in New York City, will be made by Raymond W. Smith, Bell Atlantic chairman and CEO; Bruce Gordon, the company's group president for Retail Services; and long-time corporate spokesperson James Earl Jones, who will open the event with a dramatic reading of the classic children's book.

"As the industry grows more complex, we at Bell Atlantic recognize the importance of helping our customers navigate the many communications choices available to them," said Smith. "This new campaign reasserts our commitment to our customers to help them meet their communications needs on their own terms."

Where the Wild Things Are was first published in 1963 and has won numerous awards including the 1964 Caldecott Medal for Most Distinguished Picture Book of the Year. The use of Maurice Sendak's characters by Bell Atlantic marks the first time the wild things have been used in broadscale mass-media advertising, including television.

The book tells the story of a tempestuous little boy named Max who travels to a mysterious world inhabited by giant creatures. At first Max is surprised by the wild things, but soon they make him king of all wild things. "The book is a fitting metaphor for the current state of the communications industry," said Gordon. "This campaign will remind our customers -- and reassure them, too -- that we are there for them through this figurative jungle of communications choices."

Long-time Bell Atlantic spokesperson James Earl Jones will serve as the voice of the new campaign.

Branded teaser advertising -- outdoor and TV -- will break Oct. 13 with the full campaign hitting airwaves and newspapers on Oct. 27. In addition to one 15-second TV teaser and 60-second and 30-second TV spots, the campaign will include a double-page newspaper spread, bus shelter posters and two spectacular billboards in both Times Square and spanning the facade of New York's Grand Central Station. Oversized billboards also are planned for Philadelphia, Washington, DC, northern New Jersey and Boston. The Lord Group in New York City is the advertising agency that developed and created the campaign.

"The Bell Atlantic brand is very highly regarded among our loyal customers," said Janet Keeler, Bell Atlantic vice president for Brand Management and Marketing Communications. "The creative elements of this new campaign reflect the state of the industry, and capture the excitement of the new Bell Atlantic."

The new Bell Atlantic -- formed through the merger of Bell Atlantic and NYNEX -- is at the forefront of the new communications, information and entertainment industry. With 40 million telephone access lines and 5.5 million wireless customers worldwide, Bell Atlantic companies are premier providers of advanced wireline voice and data services, market leaders in wireless services and the world's largest publishers of directory information. Bell Atlantic companies are also among the world's largest investors in high-growth global communications markets, with operations and investments in 21 countries.

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