NEW YORK - Verizon -- a veteran direct response, TV and print advertiser -- is not just a telephone company, and it wants more customers to know that. As the company rapidly expands broadband and entertainment service offerings on its wireline network, Verizon is moving aggressively into alternate channel advertising to reach new and existing customers.
The company has begun allocating a significant amount of its advertising dollars to promote its FiOS Internet broadband and FiOS TV services in online media - an extension of a successful advertising formula used by Verizon Wireless.
A recent example of this strategy was Verizon's role as one of only four major advertisers to participate in "The Lost Experience," a multimedia (Web sites, voice mail, television and print advertising) game based on the international hit ABC television series "LOST." The game began in May and ended in September.
"The Lost Experience" followed a parallel but unique storyline not featured in the television broadcasts and was designed so that both fans of the series and those unfamiliar with the show could participate and compete on equal footing.
"We sponsored the 'Lost' alternate reality online game to showcase Verizon's growing position as a leading broadband and entertainment provider, highlighted by our all-fiber-optic FiOS Internet and FiOS TV services," said Andrea Fant-Hobbs, vice president of brand management at Verizon.
During "The Lost Experience," Verizon's branding site, www.richerdeeperbroader.com, was the principal destination in the search for clues, which included video clips, audio clips and text clues. This encouraged visitors to enter, explore and engage the new updated Verizon Web site as they searched for buried clues within various pages of the site, as well as at www.retrieversoftruth.com, a site Verizon built especially for the game.
Verizon launched www.richerdeeperbroader.com last year to allow visitors to post their own digital documentaries relating how high-speed broadband service had an impact on their lives. It also featured several artistic short films about the transformational nature of broadband at www.broadbandstories.com.
This past summer Verizon updated and transformed the Richer, Deeper, Broader site, and the company launched a dynamic, multichannel online beatbox mixer at www.beatboxmixer.com. The Verizon Beatbox Mixer is a first-of-its-kind Web site, blending an audio mixer video showing the performers of each "beat" or track as they perform the player's mix. Additionally, to further connect and engage with the online community Verizon created a MySpace profile for the beatbox mixer at www.myspace.com/verizonbeatboxmixer.
"We are being more creative and aggressive to expose more users to Verizon in a whole new array of different settings," said Brian P. Price, executive director of Verizon's Online Center of Excellence. "As the consumer customer base becomes more and more segmented by personal interests, social networks and types of content, we have to find equally diverse and compelling new ways to reach everyone."
Price added that sponsoring "The Lost Experience" aligned Verizon with the story and enabled the company to create a richer experience for fans of the ABC program by leveraging many of the most popular sites on the Internet today. "We fully embraced the project not only disseminate clues but also to satisfy the show's most rabid fans and newcomers by delivering the experience into daily online activities so the story feel more realistic," he said. "We leveraged sites including Flickr, MySpace and major instant messaging services (AOL, MSN and Yahoo)."
"The Lost Experience" is Verizon's second interactive marketing opportunity this year. Verizon sponsored a Free Xbox Gold Live Weekend in March and an entire week in May. Along with sponsoring free online multiplayer gaming, Verizon was the first company to utilize console advertising from Xbox.
"Online marketing and 'beyond-the-commercial' advertising are in their infancy," said Price. "Blending in the whole gaming concept where we already are engaging our younger customers adds yet another dimension that's attractive to a company like Verizon."
Building on the success of the Xbox Live Free Gold Weekend, Verizon also sponsored the Xbox.com E3, which gave gamers a behind-the-scenes look at the conference and exclusive previews of the hottest games previously only available to those who had Xbox Gold Live.
Verizon called on its interactive advertising agency, R/GA, for creative work which required continuous updating of site material during the summer. The agency also played a leading role in the creation of the Verizon Beatbox Mixer.
As Verizon further establishes its presence online and finds edgier ways to market itself, it will still continue its direct marketing campaigns, Fant-Hobbs said, adding that the goal is to have the offline and online campaigns complement each other.
Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE:VZ), a Dow 30 company, is a leader in delivering broadband and other wireline and wireless communication innovations to mass market, business, government and wholesale customers. Verizon Wireless operates America's most reliable wireless network, serving nearly 55 million customers nationwide. Verizon Business operates one of the most expansive wholly-owned global IP networks. Verizon Telecom is deploying the nation's most advanced fiber-optic network to deliver the benefits of converged communications, information and entertainment services to customers. Based in New York, Verizon has a diverse workforce of more than 252,000 and generates annual consolidated operating revenues of approximately $90 billion. For more information, visit www.verizon.com.