Mergers & acquisitions

CenturyLink Builds New Brand

CenturyLink Inc. (NYSE: CTL) is hardly new to the post-acquisition game of rebranding its targets, or even creating a new brand. But in assimilating Qwest, CenturyLink is launching a major campaign not only to establish the company in its new local-service territories, but also to develop national awareness of its brand.

That's why we're seeing efforts as diverse as this 12-story sign in downtown Phoenix and a more standard series of national TV and radio spots establishing CenturyLink as a broadband service provider.

The gigantic sign is one of a kind and reflects CenturyLink's local market strategy in its new footprint, which includes four states new to the carrier: Arizona, North Dakota, South Dakota and Utah.

The biggest challenge is to firmly establish "CenturyLink in the minds of people who hadn't heard it before," says Tony Davis, CenturyLink's vice president of brand management.

Working with advertising agencies, branding agencies and multiple media placement agencies, CenturyLink developed market-specific strategies in keeping with its approach to local service, Davis says.

"Absolutely, our advertising is tailored to each area," Davis says. "One of the key responsibilities of placement firms as well as the agency is to determine what advertising should look and feel like in Phoenix versus Seattle."

CenturyLink's local-area sales and support staff gave their input as well. The company isn't saying how much all this is costing.

The carrier started with a campaign alerting the market that Qwest was becoming CenturyLink. That was followed by another campaign saying Qwest now is CenturyLink, coinciding with the completion of sign and logo changes on buildings, vehicles and other branded items.

Those branded items included what's now CenturyLink Field, where the Seattle Seahawks "play" football; multipurpose arenas in Boise and Omaha that now also bear the CenturyLink moniker; and the Louisiana stadium that was once labeled CenturyTel.

(One Seattle sportswriter is suggesting the stadium may soon be nicknamed "CLink.")

All of that activity was all followed by the national effort to establish CenturyLink's brand via national TV commercials and an NPR sponsorship, among other things.

Key to that effort is establishing CenturyLink as a broadband service provider, not a telephone company, and certainly not as a telco with rural Louisiana roots. CenturyLink is stressing its broadband services -- voice, data and video -- and its business offerings. In most Qwest markets, the video piece will be through partner DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV), although CenturyLink does plan to roll out its Prism IPTV service where it's technologically feasible to do so over Qwest's FTTN network. (See CenturyLink Will Bring IPTV to Qwest-Land.)

"We are repositioning the company as a new kind of broadband player," Davis says.

— Carol Wilson, Chief Editor, Events, Light Reading

AESerm 12/5/2012 | 4:53:32 PM
re: CenturyLink Builds New Brand

Yes, they've come a long way from MON-roe, LA. Avoiding debt and saving cash get get you far. One hopes they won't get Bigcity-itis, which hurt Qwest. At a User Conference this summer, a CenturyLink engineer reminded me of how much integration they've already done through previous acquisitions. The latest deal to buy Savvis, announced a few weeks after the Qwest deal closed in April, puts them squarely in the hot CDN arena.

Hanover_Fist 12/5/2012 | 4:53:31 PM
re: CenturyLink Builds New Brand

Ironic, isn't it, that a company trying to market itself as ready for the 21st century chooses, of all things, a toy from the 1950's?  I wonder how much money they wasted brainstorming that idea...

CL: We need an image that shows our technology leadership

PR: Hmmm...SmartPhone - naw...iPhone - nope...

CL: Something truly cutting-edge

PR: I got it...Etch-a-sketch...!

CL: Exactly!...We can give all our folks those...as portable drawing devices!

PR: Wait...wait...how about a Slinky...?

CL: Now you're talking!...It goes downstairs, alone or in pairs, and makes a slinkity sound!

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 4:53:31 PM
re: CenturyLink Builds New Brand

But which one? This century or last?


fgoldstein 12/5/2012 | 4:53:28 PM
re: CenturyLink Builds New Brand

Century Telephone Enterprises, by whatever name, is just another old USF subsidy whore.  They wield their monopolies like a club and use politian influence as their main stock in trade.  They've bought up a lot lately and their old crew in Mon-row is probably trying to figure out what to do with it.  Hmmm, how many switched access minutes can they get out of a Savvis backbone link?  It's 19th century robber baron thinking.


MMQoS 12/5/2012 | 4:53:26 PM
re: CenturyLink Builds New Brand

Not so fast Goldstein.  QWEST still has a lot of valuable workerbees that struggeled with the corrupt USWorst execs but have their eye on the ball in terms of what can work in the new RBOC environment.  While I have not talked to them personally recently I know that CenturyL management was early to understand the value of Triple Play services in their region.  Now with a still leading edge optical backbone, I would recommend a "watch them" attitude.

Remember what Verizon and ATT are doing to their MSO and Satellite video competition.

They (CL) have the density in parts of their region and if CL is smart like I think they are, they could move quickly into IPTV success leveraging their optical backbone.




paolo.franzoi 12/5/2012 | 4:53:25 PM
re: CenturyLink Builds New Brand



Wow, that is some revisionist history.  Qwest wracked up billions in debt and was saved by the cash generated by US West.  Better relook at the court record to find the corruption.




fgoldstein 12/5/2012 | 4:53:24 PM
re: CenturyLink Builds New Brand

Uh, mmqos, I do see what VZ and ATT are doing to their video competition.  Jack squat, for the most part.  VZ-FiOS is doing a modest though not killer business, while uVerse is basically sucking pondwater.  Both of those companies have scale and financial resources that far exceed CTE's.  Plus they are less culturally dependent upon subsidy money and corrupt commissions that let them ignore the Telecom Act when it inconvenes them.  Well, at least the subisdy part.

CL's main skill so far has been in playing Bernie Ebbers' game of Pac-Man Acquisition:  Keep buying companies bigger than yourself, using as much Other People's Money as you can get.  Now they have Q's decrepit USWest franchises plus a pretty good but not so profitable LD business. Big whoop:  It just means that ratepayers in those states will have an even harder time getting 21st century connectivity from 19th century management.

Pete Baldwin 12/5/2012 | 4:53:02 PM
re: CenturyLink Builds New Brand

I just saw the CenturyLink commercial for the first time. So, the deal with the Slinky is that a CGI'd slinky is jumping around in all kinds of different settings, delighting people, bumping their ankles, springing across their food at restaurants -- you kind of want to reach into the screen and squash it.

But none of that beats Hanover's point: There's not much about a Slinky that says "the future!"

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