SBC Takes Aim at Competitors in New Ads

A story this week on Adweek.com talks about a new ad campaign from SBC that tries to restore the mystique of printed Yellow Pages while setting SBC Yellow Pages apart from competitors €" referred to only as the €œDifferent Book€ in the new campaign.

We haven€™t seen the ads yet, just the description provided in the Adweek story. But it appears SBC has spared nothing. The spot from GSD&M in Austin, SBCDO€™s longtime agency, follows a fairy tale motif and is directed by Francis Ford Coppola€™s son Roman (no doubt trying to catch up with his sister Sophia). The ad features a voiceover from veteran character actor Roscoe Lee Browne.

Aside from the spot€™s production value, there a few things here worth noting.

First, SBC€™s newest efforts reflect a general trend toward investing more in promotion of the printed Yellow Pages. Publishers worldwide tell us that they are spending more these days, in most cases as a direct response to competition.

SBC€™s decision to call out the €œDifferent Book€ also reminds us of the tactic used by Yellow Book (not the €œOther Book€) of using broad humor and images to convey the sense that there is only one option available that can be relied upon to provide complete, accurate and relevant information. In the spot, for example, a dog owner using the €œDifferent Book€ mistakenly arrives at a veterinarian that caters exclusively to cats.

And some comments from the people behind the campaign, as quoted in Adweek, are also revealing. Jonathan Silverstein, an account director, said the ads were trying to bring back a sense that the Yellow Pages is a €œmagic book.€

He says: €œThey were great at one time €" you got everything. But almost like a fable, something bad happened. Something needed to be corrected.€

Silverstein also acknowledges that the success of SBC€™s competitors was top of mind as the spots were created. €œThey needed to make a statement, remind people that there is a choice and a quality difference.€

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. JT

    Shouldn't the industry be focused on promoting Yellow Pages as a consumer medium rather than "dissing" each other.

    The AdWeek article, based on what you described, seems to take for granted that consumers have a favorable view of the print product. That may not be as true today as it was even a few years ago. And the intensity of competition may be indirectly making that worse.

    I think they need to restore some confidence in the product itself as a valuable source of local business information.

  2. Charles Laughlin

    I agree that the industry is better served by promoting the category than promoting a brand and the expense of another. As I read the comments made in the article, and perhaps did not convey effectively, was that a key assumption driving the creative is that consumers once had a favorable view of the printed product, and that view needed to be re-inforced, if not restored.

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