Brands love when that hotline bling

As brands seek to engage customers on a deeper level, they’re jazzing up their ads with good old-fashioned hotlines.

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Brands love when that hotline bling


The Future. As brands seek to engage customers on a deeper level, they’re jazzing up their ads with good old-fashioned hotlines. This marketing play transcends mere nostalgia — it keeps personal information private, which is rare in the age of digital marketing (where first-party data collection is often the goal). The takeaway? Looking to the past might be a surefire way for brands to resonate with young, savvy buyers.

Ad Age highlights three recently successful ad campaigns that feature phone numbers at the bottom of their commercials.

  • The plant-based beverage brand Oatly launched an emotional support hotline right before Thanksgiving last year as a way to broadcast Oatly’s values without sounding too high and mighty.
  • State Farm’s Jazz Bath campaign, featuring a character named Jeff who plays the sax, debuted a hotline last November to promote its new CD. The ad was a 90s nostalgia play to attract Millennial customers, according to Clinton Inselmann, director of marketing at State Farm.
  • Mint Mobile’s campaign for a pair of pants with extra large pockets where customers could put all the money they’d theoretically save using Mint included a hotline where people could leave voicemails.

Unlike Oatly and State Farm, though, Mint wanted to use some of the voicemails to generate social content, so its marketing team had to figure out a way around privacy issues.

All parts of the timeline
In an ironic twist, marketers are using the past to connect with audiences in the present and the future.

We just want to … reinforce that we’re young and modern, just like they are, and [that] we understand what their needs are, Dave Wasserman, senior VP of creative at The Marketing Arm (the agency behind State Farm’s campaign) tells Ad Age.

Forget retro. Maybe hotlines are timeless after all.

Kait Cunniff

Kait is a Chicago-raised, LA-based writer and NYU film grad. She created an anthology TV series for Refinery29 and worked as a development executive for John Wells Productions, Jon M. Chu, and Paramount Pictures. Her favorite color is orange.


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