SBC Broadband Shoots Spots for Web Only
Rodgers Townsend is among the first to break the mold with streaming video and audio ads shot specifically for SBC Pacific Bell Broadband’s online campaign. This week, with help from streaming technology firm, EyeWonder, the St. Louis, Missouri-based shop has begun running the slice-of-life series of online ads promoting SBC’s high-speed Internet for business service.
The Web campaign was created in conjunction with print, bus shelter units, direct mail and email, as well as radio spots featuring voiceovers by spoken word strongman and hardcore punk musician Henry Rollins. It’s currently targeting the San Francisco Bay area with placements on vertical b-to-b sites such as FindLaw, Medscape and Insurance Journal, in addition to more generalized business sites like internet.com and CNet.com.
The goal: convince small business decision makers (what Rodgers Townsend’s writer and creative director, Michael McCormick, refers to as “aggressive attackers or reactors”) that without broadband connections, they’ll be left behind. According to McCormick, 50% of SBC’s target audience is still on dial-up Internet connections.
How can the power of broadband be conveyed online to dial-up modem users? That’s where EyeWonder’s Java-based streaming technology comes in. Because the technology requires no plug-in (like Windows Media Player, Apple QuickTime and RealNetworks’ RealPlayer do), nearly all Web users can experience it regardless of connection speed.
Ad budget constrictions prohibited television ads which are the typical fodder for streaming media formats. But the agency used what could be deemed a restriction as a boundless creative outlet. Shooting on high definition digital camera, the three streaming ads follow a hapless businessman through scenarios that inevitably leave him alone and in the lurch. Lingering cuts and sparse, expansive visuals along with voiceover copy like "Because he who lags behind, is inevitably left behind." and "Because longer hours are overrated." express the theme. The use of non-standard spot lengths (they run between 52-58 seconds long) and somewhat irregular format sizes added to the creative freedom.
“Because we weren’t bound by traditional media units,” explains McCormick, “we didn’t have to think about lengths of shots or anything….In editing, we had the luxury of letting the story play out the way we wanted it to.”
McCormick worked alongside fellow creatives, Mark Motley, Ryan Smith and Luke Partridge in developing the campaign. Interactive media planner, JoAnna Dettmann, headed up the interactive effort.
Although not many advertisers are shooting for Web only, American Express has also taken the leap with EyeWonder spots developed for its sponsorship of the Tribeca Film Festival.
“I think the reason people are shooting for the Web is because they truly believe the strongest most compelling format is audio and video,” opines EyeWonder’s SVP of sales & marketing, Michael Griffin. “If there’s no TV spot driving objectives online, they feel it’s worth the effort and resources to shoot specifically for Web.”
The EyeWonder ad placements “are blowing away traditional gif banners by far,” according to Dettmann. Some have garnered up to 9% CTR thus far. The online campaign will run through December.