Cox, Lies and Videotape (or, How To Advertise Like The Big Blue Boys)

Verizon has an ad on TV where they say “The fastest Internet available.” That’s what they are, pretty much anywhere in the U.S., but particularly if you can be connected via FIOS fiber.

So, in the world of advertising, in a case like this … how could an entity who’s a competitor position himself? What kinds of things might he say?

Cox is a cable provider in New England, who has this relationship to Verizon. The company has a decent product, but nevertheless has no idea how to promote it. Combined with an also decent advertising budget, mostly supported by archaic monopoly laws that give them exclusivity rights in cities and towns, they seem to feel compelled all the time to produce commercials that beg to be judged.

Why are they making them in the first place is a question no-one at Cox has apparently asked, because that might set a tone, a purpose, which might subsequently result in good commercials, with something to say.

NO RULES EXCEPT THIS

Keep in mind, advertising guru wannabees … The one thing, if you were Cox, you do not have, is the fastest service. Verizon is one of the largest companies in the world, and even they spent so much on laying end-user fiber they had to end the project without getting all their customers in. But their fiber network is a major game-changer that is impossible to compete with on how “fast” it is.

That’s the one thing you need to know. Okay? Go.

By the way, what Cox did is interesting – what they decided to put in their ads – it’s a clever attempt at deceiving people into thinking they are faster than Verizon. This can be a good strategy if you don’t mind instant credibility loss.

But I’m jumping ahead!

STUCK IN A COX BOX

Why Cox makes TV ads, airing many self-promoting ads as local content viewed by already-subscribers, just because it’s, you know … an important message … is, like any company, to grow and get more customers, and to share information about their company’s advantages in the marketplace.

For some reason, myself, I can’t get out of the box on this project. I’m having trouble with a reason why Cox is advertising in the first place. But that’s probably because (I apologize but admit I am a Cox customer) my memory has been bombarded with one consistent message Cox has laid in my brain for no extra charge: “Cox is faster than Verizon!”

As an advertising expert, I think it’s idiotic. I also worked for 14-years at TowerStream, a state-of-the-art Internet Service Provider.

But It’s smart to try and learn how longstanding companies with household names are biding the tide and standing up to a competitive environment.

We need to go to the very beginning, and the whole Cox advertising strategy can be seen to be simply decent production but bad inspiration; bad decision-making at the “what kinds of ads can we play with” meeting. The company’s strength does not come from successful marketing, but from a captive audience on streets that only have two cables for Internet on the poles … Cox or Verizon … who decide not that Cox is faster, but a little bit cheaper. Beyond that there is no selling point, so the only other Cox customers are probably either at odds with Cox’s political views (this is a joke) or just bad Internet Service shoppers.

Their ads lie about stuff that’s not hard to understand, by using misleading phraseology. No doubt about it, it’s ambiguous on purpose! (That is one of the best sentences I have ever written).

Cox advertises “Panoramic Wi-Fi.” This is a completely made-up thing. They don’t even say what it is, technically, because it isn’t anything. The ad says it “blasts Wi-Fi” around your home.” Aren’t you glad you watched? By the way, this is a stretch for them to invent a thing (choosing, of course, a fake thing) which supports that they don’t have much to say about their actual services. You can get a Wi-Fi router at Staples; it does not require a monthly payment. I guess, unless it’s “Panoramic.”

But I’m not saying ancillary services are bad. Cox’s “homelife,” which they say starts at $30 a month, if it works, might be an excellent add-on that strongly commits the end user once his home has been accessorized with cameras. It seems like the kind of system that can talk to lights and door locks, like an Alexa-limited, which is a very smart move for Cox. I keep on thinking “if it works.”

I’ll admit, Cox makes lots of ads. Not just the blue boy; they’ve got female announcers, jumping around the house acrobatic scenes, even love affairs somehow blended in to their unfortunately thin message. It’s mostly the ads that stab at Verizon I’m bothered by, and those are the ones that violate logic the most.

The Cox slogan trying to come to mind I can’t remember, because it’s so cleverly deceptive my mind has rejected it. But it’s something like “Cox has the same fast speeds everywhere.” That makes me a little angry, actually. It’s probably the most deceptive ad I have ever seen. The tiny thread of logic they’re playing with is based on Verizon not having FIOS fiber in every house in the United States; it’s only in a real lot of them. C’mon boys, keep thinkin’!

It happens over and over: Cox’s phrase “The Verizon Slow Zone,” criticizes that there are households that don’t yet have 29th-century fiber technology directly connected (for free). Is there a cheaper blow, I wonder?

The intention is to make it sound like Cox is the faster choice for you, the viewer. This is not true. But one wonders who keeps on deciding on this mindless pathway when creating ad after ad? It really is like they left 12 year-olds at command, except not as good execution as an average 12 year-old.

IN SUMMARY

I won’t say anything about the boy in blue.

Except I do actually like him, despite my calling him a “creature” in a previous article. That was mostly because of his hair. So that’s not fair. (Sorry!)

He is handsome, obviously tries hard, and has an excellent voice. Being a radio announcer and audiobook narrator myself, and pretty handsome as well, people say, I think he is a very good actor. But he’s the front man! For a big scam, courtesy of old municipal laws!

The blue boy (who wears an all light-blue suit) has to act hard. He announces that you should buy Cox because you can talk into the remote control, which immediately, of course, and I don’t know about you, sounds irresistible to me.

Then he holds up a Verizon remote, and talks into it and nothing happens.

I can’t imagine HOW nobody had told me about this! It’s almost earth-shattering! This guy really has a job to do selling this stuff!

I HAVE HAD ENOUGH. YOU?

The bottom line is, if you are competing against Verizon, don’t do what Cox does. In order to do the best, probably do exactly the opposite.

One thing’s for sure. Do anything else.

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