Sprint Canada Offers Flat-Rate Plan Through Multiple Media

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Sprint Canada is offering a flat-rate long-distance plan directly to consumers in a mail and direct response campaign launched in late August that stresses freedom through simplicity.

The long-distance provider began airing direct response television spots Aug. 24 and is following with unaddressed mail to more than 3 million Canadian consumers, plus plans for targeted mail and direct response print ads this fall.

Sprint is offering consumers 500 minutes of anywhere, anytime long-distance calling in North America for $30 a month, or $50 for 1,000 minutes. The company promises that its plan will not include a list of conditions and rules that normally accompanies other special long-distance rate plans.

"It's really uncomplicated," said Phil Hartling, vice president of marketing for Sprint Canada. "No strings attached, very simple and offered direct to customers."

The campaign targets urban, middle-income families. Sprint Canada is focusing on consumers whose calling profiles include friends nationwide, not just in their own provinces.

The television spots feature a confused woman in a city. At the end of the spot, she leaps from a cliff into a body of water. This theme of liberation and the image of a woman leaping in the air are used across the campaign in the print pieces as well.

"We're differentiating ourselves from other plans in Canada," said Lana Chen, communications manager for Sprint Canada. "We wanted to play up the freedom aspect of our plan."

Sprint has two DRTV spots running until Nov. 4. A 30-second spot airs on national prime channels, while a 60-second spot appears on national cable stations, including The History Channel, Showcase, Country Music Television and Newsworld, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp.'s news network.

The unaddressed mailers, four-panel pieces, dropped Sept. 4. The targeted mailings, sent in No. 10 envelopes, are to drop in October to 500,000 consumers, including current and former Sprint Canada customers.

In late September, direct response print ads in free-standing inserts will appear in major metropolitan newspapers in Canada. Ads also will run in the Open & Save co-op mailer. Print advertising is planned in the National Post, a national Canadian daily newspaper.

Sprint also will tie its online presence, Sprint.ca, into the campaign with banner ads run through the DoubleClick, MochaSofa.ca and Excite@Home networks.

Sprint Canada is testing to see which media prove most effective. Follow-up telemarketing is planned for the direct mail pieces, and Sprint is using unique toll-free numbers in direct response ads to measure results.

Teleservices for Sprint Canada are outsourced through agencies Sykes and Protocol. Sprint Canada also will use inhouse call centers in Montreal and Chatham, Ontario, in the campaign.

Hartling declined to reveal the company's goals for the campaign. However, this is the biggest long-distance effort this year for Sprint Canada.

Sprint Canada contracted VBDI, Toronto, a Vickers & Benson Arnold Inc. company, to provide creative services and coordinate the campaign. The campaign uses nearly every channel in the direct marketing arsenal to increase the frequency of the marketing message and reach the broadest number of consumers, said Deni Baschiera, vice president and account director for VBDI.

"We're recognizing that not all customers are the same," Baschiera said. "Different media work for different people."

Sprint Canada, Toronto, serves more than 1 million customers, representing about 10 percent of Canada's long-distance telephone market. It is owned by Call-Net Enterprises Inc., which licenses the Sprint brand from Sprint Corp. in the United States.

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