Verizon promotes FiOS with Super Bowl parties

NEW YORK: Verizon is reaching out directly to consumers though a "house party" initiative to promote its fiber-optic technology at Super Bowl parties.

NEW YORK: Verizon is reaching out directly to consumers though a “house party” initiative to promote its fiber-optic technology at Super Bowl parties.

On Sunday, about 1,400 Verizon FiOS TV subscribers are expected to participate in Super Bowl watching parties that highlight the technology. Verizon worked with House Party, a marketing agency specializing in in-home parties, to locate consumers to participate.

“We've had house parties before but none at this scale,” said Bobbi Henson, PR director at Verizon. “What we've learned in promoting FiOS is, when people actually see and experience it, they see how it is different from regular cable.”

Through its House Party Web site, Verizon asked consumers to submit applications showing their enthusiasm for FiOS technology, ability to talk about the product, and social media savvy. Henson declined to give the number of entries, but said they exceeded expectations.

“We had planned to have 1,000 parties but we moved that to 1,400 because of interest,” she said.

Last month, Verizon reported a Q4 loss and plans to shed 13,000 jobs in 2010. Some analysts have said number of new FiOS customers has not met expectations. In Q4, Verizon added 153,000 customers to both FiOS Internet and FiOS TV services, down from a year ago, according media reports.

Those selected for a House Party were sent a party pack with a Flip video, which they are encouraged to use during the party and to post the videos on Twitter and Facebook. Henson said, Verizon might post some videos on its blog but largely expects the content to move virally.

The party packs also included Verizon-branded party favors and supplies.

“But it is really the host's party,” Henson noted. “We aren't dictating how they do it. They don't even have to demo FiOS TV.”

Kitty Kolding, CEO of House Party, said in addition to building Web sites to help Verizon and the party hosts manage the event, her agency helped target the outreach by various demographics, including limiting it to geographies where the FiOS technology is available.

“This product takes awhile to understand and it involves lot of great features and complexity,” Kolding said. “With a house party, all these features become evident without having a [sales] demo.”

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