Covad rebounds from Chapter 11 to tackle phone giants

SANTA CLARA, CA: Covad Communications hopes to revitalize the battered DSL market with its just-launched "popularizing broadband" ad/PR campaign.

SANTA CLARA, CA: Covad Communications hopes to revitalize the battered DSL market with its just-launched "popularizing broadband" ad/PR campaign.

TV ads debuting this month in Washington, DC and San Francisco highlight Covad's first marketing push since emerging from Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

A provider of competitive wholesale and retail DSL services, Covad survived its primary competitors, NorthPoint and Rhythms, both of which went out of business. The current drive looks to position Covad as a populist alternative to large phone companies.

The $15 million ad push extends ongoing PR efforts to educate the public on how DSL is being used in today's real world. Corporate communications VP Martha Sessums said, "In the dot-com era, everybody had a broadband site, and you don't see a lot of those sites anymore."

PR messaging and news briefs on Covad's website illustrate examples such as the Nixon family. Ken Nixon of Overland Park, KS, uses a webcam to monitor the condition of his 84-year-old mother Louise, who has Alzheimer's, and lives in Lavaca, AR.

Covad's "Power to the People" ads feature a slightly scruffy character, Zach, who wears a campaign button and makes rousing speeches from balconies and soap boxes with "Battle Hymn of the Republic" playing in the background.

The ads tout speed, reliability, and price compared to dial-up service.

PR will focus on community relations and education in the targeted cities.

"We hope Zach takes on a personality of his own," said Sessums, adding that he will appear at events in DC and San Francisco next month.

Three firms Covad has relationships with are assisting the push: DC's Creative Response Concepts for consumer PR, DC's Pinkston Group for tech policy issues, and Weber Shandwick Worldwide in San Francisco.

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