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Verizon's Reawakening

By Jeff Kagan
Jan 5, 2018 7:00 AM PT

Verizon is finally snapping out of the doldrums it has been stuck in for the last several years. It seems to be on a comeback trail, thanks to its new advertising campaign. Having followed the company for decades, I've noticed how all of a sudden, it is blowing its own horn again. This is what it should have been doing all along.

Verizon's Reawakening

Verizon and Verizon Wireless in recent years have made many high-profile missteps, goofs and errors, but it looks as though the company is finally taking a different route. It's about time!

Verizon and The Wave

The secret to success in the world of marketing, advertising and public relations is simply this: Create a positive wave of topics for the marketplace to talk about. Always be on the growth side of the wave. The alternative is the falling side of the wave.

If you don't give the marketplace something to talk about, it will find something on its own, and that is never as pretty.

What Verizon has been doing recently is a great start, but it needs to keep injecting positive ideas into the marketplace to steer the conversation to a positive tone. If it puts information into the marketplace, the conversation often stays on those topics -- especially if there are no high-profile goofs.

The media can't write unlimited stories about any particular company. What gets covered often is what's on everyone's mind.

If a company is not putting ideas into the marketplace, then the media will find other stories, and that's where things can get very messy, very quickly.

Successful companies provide positive topics to write about and talk about. They also avoid making mistakes that will draw attention. Companies that don't play this game well typically get a bloody nose -- and that can be costly in market share, stock price and industry standing.

Over the last several years, Verizon has not been adding positive story ideas to the mix, so reporters have focused on other stories. Verizon's mistakes only added to its pain. The stories generally were not positive.

In the past, Verizon has been the company at the center of various problem areas of its own creation -- such as pulling out of local phone service and moving toward wireless. At times, it seemed that it did not know the direction it was going to head in over the next several years.

It acquired companies like AOL and Yahoo, with all sorts of security problems, which further tarnished its glow.

Verizon's Identity

Verizon has not staked out a clear position on what it is going to be in the next few years. Will it be a telephone company? A wireless company? An e-commerce network like Amazon? How will AOL and Yahoo, two companies that have seen their peak, help Verizon get to where it wants to be?

After years of mostly negative coverage, I saw an inspiring Verizon TV ad. It is positive. It is hopeful. It shows how Verizon is one of the powerful companies at the center of the innovation universe.

For the first time in more years than I can remember, I had a positive feeling about the company. That ad is the kind of winning advertising message that AT&T has been known for. It didn't sell anything. It just told a story about how tomorrow will be brighter and how Verizon will be a player, leading the way.

Verizon's new ad campaign shows doctors using robotics to help patients at far distances. It addresses the need to make cities smarter and greener. It refers to intelligent asphalt. It mentions keeping the food chain safe. It underscores Verizon's role at the center of it all.

Ads like this one make viewers feel good. They offer a bright spot. For the first time in a long time, an inspiring message is coming from Verizon. Can the company keep it up? Does this indicate a turnaround at Verizon, at long last?

An Important Point

The new ad campaign represents Verizon's transition from being viewed as primarily a wireless carrier to taking on a central role as a leading technology brand, according to Verizon marketing executive Diego Scotti, by expanding to smart cities, the Internet of Things, telematics and more.

I hope Verizon can achieve its ambitious goals, but I don't want to get ahead of myself. Although these are great aspirations, success will require that Verizon recapture what made it successful a decade or two ago. I hope it can make lightning strike twice.

The bottom line is this: I hope Verizon is getting back to the type of marketing, advertising and PR that made it successful over the last two decades. Those things can make it successful once again. The company needs to improve its standing with the influential media and analyst community. It appears to be on the right path.


Jeff Kagan has been an ECT News Network columnist since 2010. His focus is on the wireless and telecom industries. He is an independent analyst, consultant and speaker. Email Jeff.


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