Verizon Concentrates on Community Pillars to Make Connections
Verizon’s How Sweet the Sound gospel competition really struck a chord with the African-American community, a segment that represents a high lifetime value and incremental revenue opportunity for the wireless provider. The goal was to drive emotional engagement with the brand by intersecting with three key pillars of African-American culture: community, music and church.
Choirs submitted applications online at howsweetthesound.com or by mail and were ranked by combining scores of celebrity judges and online consumer votes. The top eight choirs in each market advanced to one of 11 regional competitions held at major arenas such as the United Center in Chicago, the Verizon Center in Washington, D.C., and the Wachovia Center in Philadelphia, with the winners advancing to the finals in Atlanta. A low-priced ticketing structure (tickets were $5 and $7) encouraged community-wide attendance while participating churches and community organizations received free tickets to the events. To maintain a family atmosphere, the doors opened early, at 6 p.m., the shows began at 7:30 p.m. and concessions did not sell alcohol.
A festival experience set the scene before each show. An artist gallery featured artwork that was available to attendees as cell phone wallpaper downloads; gospel karaoke in which participants performed in front of a full choir composed on a green screen with recorded footage pushed to participants via SMS and email. There were also giveaways, Hopeline Bins where attendees could contribute used phones and accessories to charity, a children’s choir showcase and, of course, Verizon promos. A V CAST demo station highlighted products and services and a free ringtone offer. During the shows, professional gospel acts added credibility and excitement. The audience supported their favorite choir with text-to-screen messages and voted via text for the V CAST Peoples Choice Award. Live simulcast events were hosted in nine markets for congregations that could not attend the finale. Category winners received cash prizes and overall winners also received a free handset; all non-winning participants received a $3,000 donation for their church.
The results were as rousing as the music, with 83 choirs and 4,000 performers representing more than 119,000 church congregation members. Attendees rated the events as “very enjoyable,” with 85 percent indicating they will attend next year. More than a third says they are likely to consider Verizon Wireless and another third had an improved opinion of the brand.