Commentary

What Will Verizon's iPhone Ads Look Like?

Iphone-VerizonLogo

So everyone knows Verizon Wireless will face a bit of a conundrum in promoting the iPhone after so conspicuously bashing the Apple devices with its "Droid Does" campaign. Other Verizon ads mocked the iPhone as less than manly compared to the Droid. Well, Verizon can't turn around now and attack the Droid, since it still hopes to sell lots more of those and other Android phones.

That leaves its old sparring partner AT&T as the logical target of an ad campaign where both sides have essentially the same device. Network speed and quality will be the factors that differentiate the two carriers' version of the iPhone. So what approach might Verizon take in telling the world it finally has the Apple phone? Here's a few possible strategies:

Acknowledge about-face on iPhone. To blunt the contradiction of embracing the iPhone after trashing it a year ago, Verizon could retrofit the "Droid Does" campaign for the iPhone. The carrier, in effect, would be making fun of its earlier ads making fun of the device and Apple's own branding. The ad creative could retain the "iDon't" motif, but turn it into a recitation of perceived advantages of Verizon over AT&T in relation to the iPhone. So "iDon't...

drop calls
have poor reception
lose Web connections
limit data use
frustrate subscribers  

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You get the idea. Or Verizon could change the theme to "iDo" and list the same capabilities, but without as direct a swipe at AT&T. This approach would be better suited to highlighting features Verizon will offer -- like the ability to turn the iPhone into a mobile hotspot at no extra charge.

iPhone ain't just for sissies. To counter its prior portrayal of the iPhone as a princess phone for Paris Hilton-like socialites, Verizon could enlist the help of well-known tough guys like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Ice Cube or WWE champ John Cena to endorse the iPhone with mock-toughness -- or run a spot showing a group of construction workers on a break avidly texting away on iPhones and giggling like a bunch of teenagers.

Bring back the Verizon Guy. Verizon could put its bespectacled spokesman back in the spotlight, popping up in iconic locales in New York and San Francisco, handing out the carrier's version of the iPhone 4 to exasperated AT&T iPhone customers and asking "Can you hear me now?" This connects Verizon's long-time emphasis on network reliability with the iPhone while underscoring long-standing criticism of AT&T's network quality.

Keep it simple, stupid. Verizon campaigns have shown a taste for the sensational and cinematic. Think of the early Droid ad showing the smartphone crashing to earth inside a meteoric orb being chased by fighter planes -- a device delivered by a more advanced alien race. Verizon also has a thing for lightning strikes, in the ad introducing the BlackBerry Storm 2 , and more recently, the TV spot where a kid finds a Verizon 4G modem in a tree that's been split by lightning.

Leave the lightning and Jerry Bruckheimer effects at home. Unlike when the Droid was launched in 2009, the iPhone is a known quantity. There's plenty of pent-up demand from Verizon customers built from years of avid speculation about the nation's largest carrier getting the iPhone. Verizon doesn't need to go over the top in pushing the iPhone; it should borrow some of the characteristic restraint Apple shows in its own ads.

The carrier may also want to avoid antagonizing Apple through ads that slam AT&T, which remains the company's other U.S. partner for the iPhone. So if Verizon wants to keep it simple and take the high road, the ad creative might look something like this:

Iphone-Verizon-SmileyFace

But don't bank on it.
1 comment about "What Will Verizon's iPhone Ads Look Like? ".
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  1. Jonathan McEwan from MediaPost, January 14, 2011 at 6:01 p.m.

    Well... I wouldn't go too heavy on the iDon'ts/iDo since CDMA networks are incapable of handling data and calls at the same time. That's one of those glass house issues, and also the reason that Apple countered the "Droid Does" campaign with the "Does your phone and your network do that?" campaign. On another note, I don't think AT&T has ever had their own iPhone ad. I believe Apple keeps as tight a control over promotion as they do over the phone's appearance, which is noticeably devoid of Verizon branding...

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