pride in service
Company touts offerings in ads, holiday catalog
By Jeff Smith
Rocky Mountain News
Saturday, December 2, 2006
Qwest Communications, which once made "Spirit of Service" an
advertising focal point, has increasingly moved to traditional
product marketing. One of the latest examples is a holiday
catalog mailed to more than 3 million residences in the telco's
14-state phone region.
"I think Qwest is going back to the blocking-and-tackling type
of brand marketing," said Steve Silvers, a principal in GBSM, a
Denver management consulting and corporate communications firm.
"If the brand is not a negative, you don't have to apologize for
Laura Sankey, Qwest's executive vice president of marketing and
communications, said "Spirit of Service" remains the foundation
of the company's commitment to customers. She noted all
advertising includes the phrase, one TV spot still features it,
and the message is regularly conveyed by CEO Dick Notebaert.
"But right now, consumers are believing we are able to deliver
that service," Sankey said. So they want to know more about
Qwest products and services.
Silvers said big companies typically have simultaneous image and
"Spirit of Service," developed by Sankey's predecessor Joan
Walker, may have helped repair Qwest's image, but it never
exactly answered the "why buy" question, Silvers said. It came
at a time Qwest was trying to put to rest financial scandal and
a perception of poor customer service.
The current mix of Qwest advertising, Silvers said, reflects
that Qwest believes its reputation is neutral or positive.
Susan Bennett, Qwest's director of direct marketing, stressed
the catalog still tries to convey the "Spirit of Service" by
making sure the products and prices are clearly spelled out to
Qwest also has become more aggressive in a series of TV ads that
make fun of cable companies raising their Internet prices. In a
recent "Jack My Price Up" TV spot, the host of a fictitious game
show delivers a new cable Internet price of more than $3,000 to
Sankey said she doesn't consider the TV spots to be "attack" ads
but rather ads promoting Qwest's "price for life" guarantee for
high-speed Internet service, juxtaposed with cable company
"We did it purposely with humor in it so it wouldn't be an
attack ad," she added.