VTel Spots Undermine the Product


Advertiser: VTel Corp.

Agency: DDB Needham, New York

Challenge: Create a brand image for a low-profile company that makes video-conferencing equipment used by businesses.

The Ads: Two TV ads aimed at business professionals show executives conducting a video conference. In one, executives use ad babble as they discuss a shade of blue that seems headed for a marketing campaign. “It says you,” says one executive. “And experience,” adds another. “We could own this blue,” gushes another executive. In the second ad, executives attending a video conference of a snack-food company cast their votes for either peanuts or nougats. “Receptivity to peanut-based refreshment is at an all-time high,” they are told. During each ad, a narrator says: “It is not what they are saying at the meeting. It is how they are having the meeting.”

Comment: In these spots, businesspeople in remote locations chat as if they’re in the same room, without audio or visual lags. The ads demonstrate VTel’s equipment. They don’t communicate an image for the VTel brand. The silly conversations between executives are meant to be funny, but they undermine VTel’s value. If what people say isn’t important, why spend a lot of money on equipment to conduct video conferences? $$