Can People Love Their Phone Company?

Earning love and consumer loyalty isn’t easy when you’re a technology services provider. Your customers most often notice your business when something isn’t working; and advertising tends to commoditize your offerings, as most competitors offer similar benefits, like fast speeds, more channels and low prices.

This was certainly true for Spawn Ideas’ client GCI, an Alaska multichannel provider selling Internet, wireless, TV and phone services. Despite regularly delivering exceptional technology, statewide communications infrastructure, and community involvement – not to mention being one of the state’s largest employers – GCI wasn’t winning the hearts and minds of its customers, and its Net Promoter Scores showed it.

Finding the Emotional Velcro to Brand Affinity

However, as Spawn’s research revealed, GCI is not a generic technology company. Unlike its competition, GCI is Alaska born and bred, and has a companywide mission to empower Alaska customers to live the life they want, without compromise.

It’s a uniquely human distinction for a technology brand that we knew could become GCI’s emotional velcro; a message that would resonate with prospects and employees, creating a bond that would drive people to join, and stick with, GCI.

This became the basis of our Alaska Born and Raised brand platform. Our creative ad strategy was simple: Tell GCI’s story and connect with customers on a whole new level.

Authentic Emotions Drive Enthusiastic Reactions

For this message to work, it was important that every touch point reflect the genuine, human aspect of GCI, rather than focusing on product features and price points.

We started by engaging GCI’s people: We enlisted employees as talent for TV spots, shared sneak peaks of the campaign with staff, and distributed new Alaska Born and Raised logo wear before the campaign kicked off. Employees reacted enthusiastically, and by the time the campaign launched, we’d created an army of 2,000+ GCI employees, who were already living the GCI message.

As one employee explained, “I love working for GCI because they are a LOCAL Alaska company and give back to the state. I love my GCI hoodie as I am also Alaska Born and Raised!”


Aligning Communications to the Customer Journey

Once we’d rallied the troops, we launched the public campaign, which was designed around the consumer journey. At each touch point, we targeted messaging to the audience’s mode (read these posts for more on Spawn’s focus on mode).

For example, we knew potential customers visited the GCI website in a research mode, so we introduced and prominently displayed the Alaska Born and Raised message there. For reassurance-seeking customers already in-store, we engaged with vibrant, Instagram-style artwork featuring GCI’s authentic connection with the community. All messages emphasized the company’s mission-driven decision-making, intended to help people live the life they want, without compromise.

This story bolstered the humanity of the brand, encouraging mindsets that supported people, places and even companies. It was fresh and original in an otherwise product- and price-focused world.

Ongoing Success

The campaign was an instant hit. Appropriately, its popularity started with GCI’s staff. For the first time in years, GCI employees were excited to wear their logo gear outside of work. It was the connection employees needed to be inspired once again by their company.

And the results reached far beyond the business: Success was further measured by increasing GCI’s Net Promoter Score, growing social media engagement and positive comments, as well as an uplift in sales.

The #AKbornandraised campaign continues to this day.

award trophy

Public Relations Society of America - Alaska Chapter

Aurora Award

First Place, Brand Management