Verizon Talks Up Service to Hispanics

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Telecommunications giant Verizon Communications Inc. is targeting U.S. Hispanics with a "Hush" multichannel campaign promoting a new unlimited calling plan named Freedom Essentials.

Latino communications agency La Agencia de Orci & Asociados, Los Angeles, devised the effort, which plays off the cultural theme of Hispanics loving to talk but being told by parents to keep quiet. The push included two 60-second television spots, online banners and a targeted direct mailing.

"The DM piece is really focused," said Joe Paz, group marketing manager at Verizon, New York. "It's much more targeted, whereas some of our television and grassroots campaigns are more scattered."

Mr. Paz said that Hispanics account for about 40 percent of customers in Los Angeles and New York. Florida's Tampa Bay area also has a large Spanish-speaking market, he said.

The direct mail piece went to all of Verizon's Hispanic customers in the United States. The Spanish-language TV spots air in areas where the Spanish-speaking population is higher.

Verizon  runs a model on its database that looks at customers' names and addresses to determine whether they likely belong to a minority group. The company also tags people based on the language preference they indicate when using a call center in order to determine the direct mail list.

The exact amount of mail sent was not disclosed. However, Mr. Paz said that it was sizable and done in four waves.

Results from the mail campaign are still coming in. The company initially saw good results in several states but when aggregated the total result was "not where we'd like it," Mr. Paz said.

Customers who do not have high-speed DSL Internet connections with Verizon got a versioned piece promoting Freedom Essentials with the additional DSL offer.

This piece comes at the same time as a two-sided DSL mailing that went to all customers without Verizon DSL that makes the offer in English and in Spanish. Each language version carries a separate phone number for responses.

All customer calls to Verizon are driven to multilingual operators. In addition to the Hispanic market, the company also focuses on the African-American demographic and the Asian market, offering service and information in Vietnamese, Korean and Chinese.

Verizon wants to reach customers in the appropriate language, Mr. Paz said, but all marketing pushes to target markets also aim to be culturally relevant.

"Mass market is a shrinking market," he said. "The growing market is a targeted market."

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