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Brand X: V Day

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Brand: Verizon Wireless
Agency: Bozell (NY)
Creative director: Rich Levy

Brace yourself for $300 million-worth of kindly cowboys, sweet surfers, beaming brides, and smiling senior citizens, because that's how much Verizon -- the new nationwide wireless network incorporating Bell Atlantic Mobile -- is planning to spend to support its nascent brand. In suddenly ubiquitous new spots, Verizon's all-American cast of characters does nothing more than grin contentedly and flash the V-for-victory symbol. Why? It's not entirely clear, but it seems to have something to do with freedom: A Vonda Shepard-esque vocalist covers the Rascals' "People Got to Be Free" while James Earl Jones, in voice-over, invites you to "join in." Of course, other phone companies' commercials are at this very moment featuring similar all-Americans also engaging in celebratory hand gestures (one set of customers holding up their index fingers to celebrate all-in-one service, another defiantly holding up flaming telephone bills). But what can you expect? Bell Atlantic and its new partners didn't even make "Verizon" -- a marriage of veritas and horizon -- the official name until after Bozell started working on these spots two months ago; the agency was told only that the new brand name would begin with a V. An insta-company with a synthetic name spends hundreds of millions to win your heart with a faux-patriotic advertising campaign? What could be more all-American than that?


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