Sad but true - no one likes their telecom provider.

The telecom industry is one of the most despised industries in America, where consumers feel under-serviced and exploited. Alaska's largest telecom company, GCI, was no exception. The company provides Internet, wireless, TV and phone service and is one of the state's largest employers. While the company regularly provides exceptional technology, statewide communications infrastructure, and community support - it wasn't winning the hearts or minds of customers and other stakeholders - and its net promoter scores reflected it.

Connecting on a completely different level

Technology service providers are very much a commodity, offering relatively similar products for about the same price. And on top of that - they all promise the same thing: fast speeds, more channels, lowest price, etc., etc. So why is GCI truly different and why should people care? The answer lives in GCI's roots. Unlike the competition, GCI is a local born-and-bred company, so every decision it makes for its customers, employees, and products has the power to contribute to the greater good of the state. Its mission is to let consumers live the life they want in Alaska, without compromise. In a sea of competitive parity, that's something GCI customers - and employees - could get behind. Our strategy was simple: tell GCI's story and connect with customers on a whole new level to build brand affinity.

A message with heart

It was clear from social listening that GCI needed to bring more humanity to the brand. A connection had to be built with shared values - emotional Velcro that would make customers stick behind the brand in good times and bad. This applied to GCI employees as well. They needed to be inspired and proud of their company. To that end, it was more important to be rooted in authenticity and emotion than price points and product features. A message with heart, the "Alaska Born and Raised" campaign launched statewide telling the bigger GCI story: what its people do, why they do it, and how it benefits their customers. Everything from TV, to store merchandising, its website, event materials, social, print and more was used to connect with customers on an emotional level GCI hadn't before. In a heavy product and price-focused world, the Alaska Born and Raised brand campaign offered fresh air and originality.

"Alaska Born and Raised" takes off

The first step in the solution was to create an army of advocates. We enlisted GCI employees as talent for our TV spots, shared sneak peaks of the campaign, and offered new "Alaska Born and Raised" logo wear. We fostered an environment of excitement and pride, and by the time the campaign launched, created 2,000+ brand advocates. Once the first step was underway, the public campaign launched, presented through the lens of the consumer journey. Through research and customer journey exploration, we knew potential customers visited the GCI website before they ever stepped foot in a store. So the Alaska Born and Raised message was prominently displayed on the GCI website. Once in-store we took advantage of a brief wait time before customers were serviced to engage them with an in-store artwork piece that purposefully embodied an Instagram look and feel, fitting the technology and service GCI provides. Chosen images showed GCI's authentic connection with the community.

A new Found Respect

The campaign was an instant hit and is still in place at GCI today. For the first time in years, GCI employees were excited to wear GCI logo gear outside of work. It was the connection employees needed to once again be inspired by their company. One employee stated, "I love working for GCI because they are a LOCAL Alaska company and give back to the state. I love my GCI hoodie as I am also Alaska Born and Raised!" Success was further measured by increasing GCI's Net Promoter Score, growing social media engagement and positive comments, and an uplift in sales.

Public Relations Society of America - Alaska Chapter

Aurora Award

First Place, Brand Management