Cingular Spreads Word of Its New Name

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Cingular Wireless has experienced a response rate of more than 2 percent from the 14.5 million direct mail pieces it dropped on last week.

The mailing was part of the wireless provider's multimedia campaign designed to introduce its new operating name, Cingular, to the marketplace, acquire new users, and present new rate plans and services to current members.

The campaign's cost has been reported to be more than $200 million and will include print ads, outdoor advertising, radio and TV spots.

The direct mail pieces use the slogan "What do you have to say?" as well as a new logo that communicates the message: "I'm Cingular. And I believe you are, too."

Cingular, Atlanta, was created last April through a joint venture by the 11 wireless divisions within SBC Communications and BellSouth. Wireless users of both companies combined represent 20 million people. The new name was announced in October, but the company waited until the new year to introduce it. Cingular began notifying users of the name change in November via billing statements from their previous providers.

"All of our competitors are focusing on the technology aspect and the availability of different rates and coverage," said Clay Owen, director of media relations at Cingular Wireless. "But in the wireless market, we're at a point where all of that is a given and users don't have to be constantly reminded of it. We're putting the focus of the campaign on the consumer, not us."

With the direct mail component, which was dropped during the third week of January, Cingular targeted only current members with fewer than 10 phone lines. The other 5.5 million customers with more than 10 lines were handled by its sales force.

There is no direct mail campaign targeting prospects, but plans for an acquisition campaign are in the "developmental stage."

According to Jane Ratliff, director of customer communication at Cingular Wireless, 11 pieces were used for the campaign. They were personalized according to the previous provider and not by the recipient's name. The text and images were virtually identical. The only difference was the provider's name on the cover and inside.

The piece, a two-color tri-fold self-mailer, did not include a pitch. The inside text mentions added services, coast-to-coast coverage, simplified calling plans and rates.

Information about a free T-shirt offer -- and the Web site that must be accessed to get it -- is also included. This is the only call-to-action on the piece.

To receive the T-shirt, users must enter a PIN included on the piece. This will take them to a Web page where they will answer questions designed to help identify what type of services they would be interested in. Ratliff said the company will use the information to help segment its database in order to run highly targeted future marketing campaigns.

"After they answered some questions and were notified that they had just received the free T-shirt, they were linked to a new Web page containing information on our new rate plans," Ratliff said. "The response to the T-shirt offer so far has been more than 2 percent, but that is continually growing."

Design and creative were handled by the New York and South divisions of ad agency BBDO, New York.

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