BEDMINSTER, NJ — Verizon Wireless, the nation's largest wireless service provider, has launched FREE  TLK, a new Web site and online campaign with wireless product and entertainment options developed for the late teen/young adult wireless consumer.
The FREE  TLK Web site, www.free2tlk.com, which leverages the brand and entertainment appeal of Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment (SPDE) online entertainment assets, will play a key role in Verizon Wireless' expanded marketing focus on late teens and young adults. It closely follows the company's recent launch of [FREEUP], a service package designed for late teens/young adults aged 16 to 24, that bundles nationwide voice service, two-way text messaging and voice mail.
The marketing initiative uses a mix of SPDE's branded entertainment properties popular with teens/young adults to integrate its campaign messages, including Dawson's Desktop, which experiences 26 million page views each month, Dawson's Creek.com and online gaming site The Station@sony.com. The campaign will feature creative online and offline extensions, including mobile "Dawson's Creek" updates and the use of odd-sized ad units and interstitials to reinforce its message and drive traffic.
The initiative also offers late teens and young adults the opportunity to win free Sony Discman disc players and tickets to Sony movie entertainment. As a reward for making an online purchase through the FREE  TLK Web site, customers receive a free copy of Sony Music's Now 6 CD, a compilation of hits from some of today's most popular music artists.
The FREE  TLK Web site is designed to be "sticky," or to create reasons for late teens and young adults to bookmark the site for return visits. Some of the site's features include:
- Play2 Day - http://www.free2tlk.com/contest_enter.asp -- gives visitors frequently updated contests, such as the current "shorthand showdown" contest, where they can compete for cool prizes
- Hot Phones - http://www.free2tlk.com/hotphones.html -- lists the latest, trendiest phones with their functionality
- XLNT Extras - http://www.free2tlk.com/xtras.html -- includes text messaging speed games, a text messaging dictionary and a page from where visitors can send text messages to their friends
- ?sup @ VZW - http://www.free2tlk.com/community.html --discusses the philanthropy work being done at Verizon Wireless with information on how to get involved
- Cool Links - http://www.free2tlk.com/coollinks.html --a section with site partners and other cool sites that interest the young adult/late teen market
- Pop Plans - http://www.free2tlk.com/zipcode_enter.asp?rid=1 -- an easy-to-read section of the most popular wireless service plans and promotional offers
- [FREEUP] - http://www.free2tlk.com/freeup.html -- dedicated to the newly launched service created especially for teens
- GR8 Deals - http://www.free2tlk.com/zipcode_enter.asp?rid=2 -- highlights the latest wireless service promotions
- Open Up - http://www.free2tlk.com/survey.html --a survey asking information from young adults about what products interest them most
Verizon Wireless will heavily promote the new FREE  TLK Web site in its fall advertising promotions. The company said it is devoting a large portion of its fall marketing campaign to the young consumer segment, which totals some 34 million people across the U.S. today. Teenage Research Unlimited, a Northbrook, Ill.-based market research firm, places Sony as the second "coolest" brand among teenagers.
"We're excited to have worked closely with Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment in creating this online marketing campaign," said John Stratton, Verizon Wireless vice president and chief marketing officer. "Sony resonates with this audience segment in both brand power and entertainment prowess and clearly understands how to target this segment with quality, branded entertainment products and services. At the same time, wireless technology continues to play an increasing role in the lives of young consumers, providing them with a communications vehicle for the delivery of information, entertainment and short messages. This is a great collaborative effort between a premiere entertainment company and consumer product marketer and the nation's largest wireless carrier."
"Verizon Wireless pushed the envelope in creating a campaign that integrates a strong call to action with the power of entertainment to reach and motivate an important audience segment for their brand," said John Henderson, vice president of Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment's Ad Sales Network. "This collaborative effort strongly illustrates how a marketer can tap into our branded entertainment properties - online and offline - to go beyond the traditional and closely align its brand through a campaign that resonates with youth."
About Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment, Inc.
Sony Pictures Digital Entertainment (SPDE), an operating unit of Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE), oversees the activities of SPE's digital production and online assets including Sony Pictures Imageworks, Sony Online Entertainment, SoapCity, and all of the studio's online promotional presence. SPDE focuses on three areas: 1) producing and developing visual effects and computer-generated imaging (CGI), digital character animation, and original content for motion picture, television, online and PlayStation audiences; 2) developing new forms of online entertainment; and 3) leading SPDE's efforts to provide online, open-access video-on-demand, interactive television and the distribution of new forms of digital content and services over the emerging broadband IP (Internet Protocol) networks.
Sony Pictures Entertainment, Inc. (SPE) is a division of Sony Corporation of America (SCA), a subsidiary of Tokyo-based Sony Corporation. SPE's global operations encompass motion picture production and distribution, television production and distribution, worldwide channel investments, home entertainment acquisition and distribution, operation of studio facilities, development of new entertainment products, services and technologies, and distribution of filmed entertainment in 67 countries. Sony Pictures Entertainment can be found on the World Wide Web http://www.spe.sony.com.
About Verizon Wireless
Verizon Wireless is the largest wireless communications provider in the U.S. with more than 28 million wireless voice and data customers. The coast-to-coast wireless provider was formed by the combination of the U.S. wireless businesses of Verizon Communications (NYSE:VZ) and Vodafone (NYSE and LSE: VOD), including Bell Atlantic Mobile, AirTouch Cellular, GTE Wireless and PrimeCo Personal Communications. Verizon Wireless has a footprint covering more than 90 percent of the U.S. population, 49 of the top 50 and 97 of the top 100 U.S. markets. The company, headquartered in Bedminster, NJ, is 40,000 employees strong. Reporters and editors can find more information about the company on the Web at http://www.verizonwireless.com.