Alliance for Competitive Communications
For several years, the Regional Bell Operating Companies had sought to have Congress deregulate telecommunications markets. Long distance companies benefited from a status quo that enabled them to encroach on local Bell company telephone markets while “Baby Bells” were barred from providing long distance services.
The “Baby Bells” knew they had to build political support for their position in order to persuade Congress to act in their interests. Their coalition, the Alliance for Competitive Communications, retained Smith & Harroff to assist with message development and create advertising to influence the policy debate.
“The media lobbying strategy the Baby Bells employed is a case study of how to reach the right people; it’s also a reinforcement of a new trend, whereby industry groups enlist pollsters and media consultants to wage political campaigns over legislative issues.”
–Campaigns and Elections, (Oct/Nov 1995)
Smith & Harroff’s action plan was based on the premise that consumers want choice in their telephone service. We developed a plan that would keep this message front and center, expressed simply in print, radio and television advertising. Opinion research confirmed that “consumer choice” – augmented by competition – should be the core message, one the Alliance maintained throughout the debate. Our advertising created awareness by featuring telephone message slips urging Congress to “let consumers choose.” The plan was deliberately conducted like a political campaign, targeting members of Congress.
In 1996, Congress passed – and the President signed – legislation favored by the “Baby Bells” to allow them to compete for long distance services.