2002: Verizon makes “Can you hear me now?” guy an integral part of the brand’s marketing efforts

To celebrate the Ad Club of New York's 120th anniversary, The Drum is inviting readers to share their favorite marketing moments from the past 120 years.

Today’s marketing moment was chosen by Thom Gruhler, CVP of apps and services at Microsoft. Below, find out why Verizon’s long-running ‘Can you hear me now?’ campaign is his favorite marketing moment.

My most memorable marketing moment was the launch of the "Can you hear me now" campaign for Verizon with now famous, horn rimmed glasses wearing, 'Test Man' character who represented a real group of Verizon employees that drove more than 100,000 miles each per year to test the reliability of Verizon's network.

The "Can you hear me now?" question was a familiar refrain for cell phone users back then, and call connection reliability was fast moving up the ranks of key purchase considerations for wireless users. While the competitors were shouting about minutes and pricing, we developed this campaign to communicate Verizon's relentless drive to make wireless connection even better. The insight was that if your call doesn't go through, what difference does it make how many minutes you have.

The campaign took off in popular culture and became an instant hit with consumers, in fact I still hear wireless users repeating the refrain today and immediately reference test man. Not only did Verizon own the network superiority perception in the category, and arguably still does, their business was dramatically impacted.

Verizon significantly gained market share and reduced customer turnover. In fact in the first year the campaign launched Verizon's Net customers grew 10% to 32.5 million and then again by 15% more to 37.5 million in the second year. Churn dropped to 1.8% after two years, down from more than 2.5% before the campaign launched.

See the full 120 Marketing Moments in the dedicated online section and find out how to purchase the exclusive book.

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