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Ad Watch: Verizon FiOS takes a #HalfFast Gamble to Gain Customers

Aaron Steinfeld

Welcome back to another exciting excuse to not fast-forward through commercials on your DVR, but instead to watch them with the boundless curiosity of a young child. In this edition of ad watch, we're going to take a stroll into the controversial part of town (sometimes confused with Bridgeport, CT) to visit our friends at Verizon FiOS. Pull on your comfy pants, grab some popcorn, and prepare yourself for an all-too-brief discussion of an ad series that isn't at all half-asoh sorryhalf-fast.

Before we jump in, however, why not watch the commercial to the right? The world isn't unfamiliar with ads that put a clever spin on words to sound like something else (which might be occasionally suggestive). Have you ever shipped your pants? Or conversed with your chums about the big gas prices the country is contending with? K-Mart has made efforts to put itself in the center of both those enthralling topics in the past. Personally, I thought these commercials were relatively hilarious and effective. In an age where the average consumer skips through commercials with a convenient button press, advertisers really need to go above and beyond to be memorable. And Youtube views don't lie on either of these commercials. When is the last time you had a video with a million views on it? That's what I thought.

That being said, most of these memorable campaigns have one thing in common: backlash. As it turns out, many sources, ranging from, to the American Family Association, to message board visitors and back again find this Verizon FiOS ad to be in bad taste. Sure, I get where they're coming from. Using the words "half-fast" together, in a sentence, sounds entirely like something else. But that's where the magical hash tag of #HalfFast comes into play, helping all of us spell out what's being said. The whole campaign's purpose is advertise the company's Speed Match service (which is narrated by Ty Burrell, best known as Phil Dunphy on Modern Family), which promises that upload speeds will rival those of download speeds. Of course, to me, that might mean really slow download speeds, but I'm just a tech-savvy cynic. A message board contributor sums up the ad quite well, by calling the ad above intentionally attention grabbing, and a "humorous play on words." I completely understand why parents might find these ads distasteful, and unfortunately, that's what makes them work. It's truly a double-edged sword, but yet the ad continues to air!

Here's an interesting point. It took me almost three paragraphs to get to the actual messaging behind the ad. And if I were to ask someone about the half-fast ad series, would the layman know what the subject matter was after reminiscing about the wit behind the campaign? That's a great question, and perhaps the fatal flaw. The best part about this ad is that they've gone viral, and that in turn makes people think of Verizon FiOS whenever this commercial airs. Am I in a minority of people that think recalling the subject matter of ad along with the ad itself is difficult? Or, is that the purpose? And what's the true purpose of the ad, to educate the masses about matched upload/download speeds, or to tell everyone Verizon FiOS is available in select locations? So many questions, so little time.

At this junction, I'm going to disagree with most of the Internet, and state that I think this is a fantastic campaign. It's not intentionally offensive, and uses a clever play on words that made me do a double take and rewind to watch the commercial again. Sure, I won't be switching providers anytime soon, especially since Verizon FiOS isn't available in my neck of the woods, but I will not forget this commercial either. An ad like this has an impressive shelf life, and will find a way to live on. Negative or positive coverage aside, as long as the ad continues to be watched by the masses, I'd call this a successful campaign. What do you think? Were you offended, or amused? CJP

PS: I don't think this campaign is any worse than the Sheets brand "take a sheet" ad series. Now that's special.

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