Generous phone companies might seem like a thing of the past, but Vonage is here to show that they do still exist. JWT New York worked with the innovative VOIP phone service provider to introduce their newest spokesperson, “Chief Generosity Officer” (CGO). We sat down with Scott Lewis, Executive Creative Director at JWT New York and the lead on the Vonage creative team, to find out what inspired this work. Scott even drops a hint about where the CGO could be headed in the future.
Check out our conversation with Scott and watch Vonage’s CGO in action below.
What was the idea behind this campaign? How did you get the CGO idea out of that?
The idea is to reintroduce Vonage as a company that is generous with their technology, so you can be generous with your communicating. Although most know Vonage as a VOIP player, or don’t know Vonage at all really, the company has broken many barriers in the traditional Telco paradigm to make communicating easier, and less expensive. The Chief Generosity Officer is our way of letting the brand talk in a new voice—one that can rail against the restrictions of arbitrary limits set by the Telco Regime and one that can show great enthusiasm for the solutions that Vonage builds to overcome those limits.
This story of the CGO is a modern day “zero to hero” tale. How will this tale be continued through social media, radio and other mediums?
I wouldn’t say our character was ever a “zero.” He has always had a generous heart keen on helping people connect. Even as a child he was so bent on helping others, doctors diagnosed him as having CGD–compulsive generosity disorder. Being discovered by the Vonage CEO simply put him in a place where his actions could be amplified. His generous nature will most definitely begin to surface in social media, where people will start to hear about his exploits and experience his crazy generosity first-hand.
The CGO campaign seems like it creates a character that’s built for long-term success, with the likes of the Geico Gecko or Allstate’s “Mayhem”, is that what you were going for going into this campaign? Or was it a more natural path into that?
We are definitely in this for long-term success. Vonage has historically run one-or-two-off spots that failed to build a strong bond to their audience. Our goal while looking for a campaign idea was to fix that. To give Vonage something that would build brand love, not just sell long distance. When the idea of a Chief Generosity Officer surfaced during our creative exploration, it felt big enough to sustain a campaign, and lovable enough to connect to the audience in a way that Vonage hadn’t before. That’s the sort of ingredient that is baked in to great campaigns like Mayhem. It’s absolutely where we want our CGO to go.
Now that the CGO is created, how much control do you have over the path that the character takes from here on out?
We want to shape the CGO to be the best person he can be—true to his ideals of connecting people, and championing efforts to break down the barriers that impede them. Once he is out in the world, we can control his purpose, but we are happy to have him to find his way into communities that want him, and let them add to his character. Word has it he was recently spotted heading south of the border…
What do you think this campaign can do for Vonage and its brand message?
Wipe off the dust that has settled on a company known only for cheap long distance, and reveal a shiny champion of generous communications.
— Scott Lewis is an Executive Creative Director
s at JWT New York and lead creative on the JWT Vonage team.