Silver: Best New Product Launch 2015

  • Campaign: Verizon Alaska
  • Brand: Verizon
  • Agency: Erwin Penland

Alaska isn’t like the other states in the union: It’s home to volcanoes, earthquakes, glaciers, more than 30 species of mosquitos, and a state capital inaccessible to the rest of the state—let alone the rest of the country—by road. You have to be tough to thrive in Alaska, a fact that the residents are justifiably proud of. When Verizon launched its wireless service in Alaska in 2014, it emphasized the toughness and durability of its network while emphasizing the uniqueness of its new market.

To connect with Alaskans emotionally, Verizon and agency Erwin Penland created a 30-second TV spot showcasing the area’s unique sights—seaplanes, sled dogs, Pinzgauer ATVs—and how Verizon overcame unique physical and logistical challenges to build an LTE network specifically for the state. Out-of-home, newspaper, and radio advertising also let Alaskans know that not only was Verizon launching wireless service but it was opening several stores as well.

To bring the message to life while reinforcing the physical presence of Verizon, the brand launched a scavenger hunt, hiding cases filled with Verizon gadgets around Anchorage, which is home to more than 40% of Alaska’s population and by far the state’s most populous city. Clues to the whereabouts of the cases were posted on Twitter with the hashtag #WeAreHereAlaska.

While only a select few scavenger hunters located the cases, a great many more Alaskans found their way to a Verizon store come opening weekend; in fact, the lines had a more than three-hour wait. And when the latest iPhone launched, Verizon’s top three Alaska stores ranked first, second, and fourth in terms of volume among all its stores nationwide.