A new Verizon campaign, debuting during NCAA March Madness, features a set of sports stars and celebrities suggesting kids aspire to careers in science and technology.
Launched during the Final Four weekend, the hoops link sees Verizon ambassador and Cleveland Cavaliers super star LeBron James suggest that the world doesn’t need more basketballers.
While NFL star Drew Brees (New Orleans Saints) says there are already enough quarterbacks, Spanish striker David Villa claims there are plenty of soccer players and super model Adriana Lima posit that there are enough models too – as the brand ambassadors all aim to encourage children to consider science careers.
All these endorsers all argue that the world needs more scientists, engineers, mathematicians and tech professionals.
The purpose behind Verizon’s initiative, developed in harness with digital agency partner R/GA, is to highlight the telco’s Innovative Learning initiative (which offers access to resources to get kids excited about these kinds of jobs and funds relevant education programs at schools throughout the USA).
The objective behind #WeNeedMore is straightforward – to enlighten Americans and excite kids.
The spearhead, 60-second ‘Anthem’ commercial states that there are only 2,880 pro football players, 850 pro soccer players, 624 pro basketball players and just 5,800 fashion models, but there are 9 million jobs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
The TVC is amplified socially across its various digital and social platforms – including Instagram
— Verizon (@verizon) March 31, 2017
— Verizon (@verizon) March 31, 2017
With further social support from the ambassadors and endorsers themselves on their own personal channels.
— David Villa (@Guaje7Villa) April 2, 2017
‘We made it our mission years ago to deliver the promise of the digital world; it’s part of our transition from a telecom company to a digital company,’ explains Verizon’s chief marketing officer Diego Scotti.
‘Not having access or knowing how to use [technology] today is like not knowing how to read or write 100 years ago.’
In the research and planning phases of the campaign, Verizon asked kids in ‘underserviced’ schools about their life goals and an overwhelming number said they wanted to be celebrities.
This making-of video illustrates his point.
The campaign will evolve with further spots featuring stars like actress and singer Zendaya and NASCAR driver Joey Logano and NBA player Karl-Anthony Towns as Verizon aims to continue show the public a side of the company and the brand that not a lot of people know.
There is also further related support by a parallel, stat-led March Madness campaign for the telco’s streaming service.
— Verizon (@verizon) March 20, 2017
Hoops fans, we’ve got you covered. Just don’t ask us to make any awkward explanations to your boss. pic.twitter.com/zjhM3SV5K7
— Verizon (@verizon) March 23, 2017
Stream all the downtown threes from downtown, uptown, or out of town. pic.twitter.com/i4p5y8v8Q0
— Verizon (@verizon) March 21, 2017
This campaign isn’t just notable for not mentioning or promoting a specific telco related product or service.
Nevertheless, as Verizon claim, it is important for companies to increasingly emphasise social responsibility – particularly those gaining more power and influence across the media and technology landscape.
‘We are in a category where whoever shouts loudest with the cheapest offer wins. But we want to make a point: our place in the world is also about [Verizon’s] values and its mission. This was a really important moment for us as a tech company, and connecting with this audience made a lot of sense,’ outlines Scotti.
But it is also interesting because it is aiming to spread a message that seems so counter cultural to kids dreams.
The intention here is clearly noble.
But encouraging and supporting youngsters to follow their dreams and passions is a long-time advertising tactic that has been tried and tested for decades.
Telling them to pursue something else is, well, a pretty radical marketing approach.
Rational and logical it may be, but there is a surprising and counter advertising and sports marketing message behind this campaign: it encourages you not to follow your dreams or pursue your passions, but rather to focus on careers where there are jobs and roles.
This might be the kind of perspective a parent might take, but it certainly isn’t the usual route taken by advertisers.