Meet the CMOs: Verizon’s Scotti works to shore up wireless, Fios business

Verizon CMO
This is an entry in our new “Meet the CMOs” feature that will look at the top marketing executives in the nation’s biggest telecom companies. These are the executives who oversee multimillion dollar advertising budgets and are charged with raising their company’s brand profile.

CMO: Diego Scotti

Bio: Scotti was appointed as Verizon’s first CMO in 2014. Prior to Verizon, Scotti served as the CMO of J. Crew, and before that oversaw 20 print and digital media brands at Condé Nast Publications. Earlier, he headed up global advertising and brand management for American Express.

Scotti was recognized as one of the “Marketing Top 40 under 40” by Advertising Age in 2007 and was one of 21 marketers named as “Internationalists” by International Magazine in 2012. He is also a member of the board of directors of the ANA and Ad Council.

How much money does the company spend on advertising? Verizon spent $2.74 billion on advertising in 2016, down slightly from $2.75 billion in 2015.

What’s the company’s marketing message? Facing competition from cable and its three main wireless competitors, Verizon has campaigns geared toward pushing both its wireline and wireless offerings.

For example, Verizon recently launched a TV campaign touting the benefits of its fiber-based Fios broadband: “Fios is not cable. We're wired differently.” While cable can deliver high download speeds, current DOCSIS systems don’t allow for symmetrical speeds. In a holiday commercial for its $79.99 150 Mbps symmetrical offer, Verizon shows how multiple users can download various apps in less than 3.7 seconds.

The service provider is equally aggressive with wireless advertising. Earlier this year, Verizon introduced an $80-a-month plan with unlimited talk, text and data for both new and existing subscribers. The company has been pushing that offer—a major effort by the carrier to revive its flagging wireless business—with a series of spots featuring actor Thomas Middleditch, known for his role on HBO's Silicon Valley.

What’s the company’s advertising strategy? Verizon uses a mix of local and national advertising methods.

The service provider has also faced off with cable competitors in high-profile Fios markets like New York City. Indeed, in 2015, Altice’s predecessor company Cablevision filed a complaint with the Better Business Bureau's National Advertising Division in 2015 over an ad challenging Verizon's 100% fiber optic service claim. Fios uses a coax cable connection inside the home to distribute broadband and video services.

As it looks to enhance its advertising reach, Verizon hired Andrew McKechnie as its first chief creative officer to build an in-house agency. McKechnie is tasked with creating a common story for all of Verizon’s growing platforms: services, IoT, apps and video platforms.

Is the company’s advertising successful or not? Ultimately, Verizon’s success will be measured by its ability to attract and maintain new wireless and Fios subscribers. One measure of wireless success came in the first quarter when Verizon Wireless reported that retail phone churn improved after the unlimited launch and was less than 0.9% for “the eighth consecutive quarter despite heights and competition in the marketplace.”

However, Verizon only added 35,000 Fios broadband customers for the quarter, reflecting first quarter seasonal trends and the maturing of its Fios markets. And with much of its wireline network still not upgraded to Fios, Verizon’s symmetrical claims don’t mean much to those cities and towns whose options are either slower speed DSL or cable.

More recently, new data from advertising measurement company iSpot showed that Verizon continues to dominate the digital marketing world among mobile network operators. The nation’s largest wireless carrier claimed 56% of the industry’s “digital share of voice” from March 16 through April 15, iSpot.tv reported, generating 1.5 billion impressions from nine TV ads that aired more than 8,000 times. Verizon’s ads saw the highest engagement on ABC, NFL Network and CBS, iSpot said, and ads performed particularly well during the NCAA men’s basketball tournament and NBA games.