Rogers begins corporate branding blitz

Beginning this week, Canadian communications heavyweight Rogers Communications will launch the most ambitious corporate branding campaign in its history - one that aims both to reposition the company as an integrated communications provider and to generate awareness for its newly named...

Beginning this week, Canadian communications heavyweight Rogers Communications will launch the most ambitious corporate branding campaign in its history – one that aims both to reposition the company as an integrated communications provider and to generate awareness for its newly named wireless division, Rogers AT&T Wireless.

In keeping with its unified image, Rogers will soon be opening a chain of branded flagship retail locations which sell products and services from both its wireless and cable divisions. The new stores will reportedly offer video and DVD rentals, magazines published by Rogers Media, cellular products and Rogers@Home Internet service.

On Jan. 17, Rogers will unveil a 60-second television spot, created by MacLaren McCann, which is anchored by the tagline ‘Imagine,’ and introduces Rogers’ new logo: a Mobius strip. The Toronto-based agency had originally pitched Rogers with the slogan ‘Imagine That,’ but truncated it in early December when it was learned that Sony of Canada was using the same tag to promote its Sony store.

The spot will be complemented by a full multimedia effort, including newspaper, outdoor, radio, point-of-sale, tactical television spots for the wireless business, and magazine. In addition, company patriarch Ted Rogers will be travelling across the country to boost the launch in key markets.

‘This is mainly an umbrella treatment, and the first tangible proof of this new creation – this new identity – is Cantel changing its name to Rogers AT&T,’ explains Debbie Carver, vice-president, group business director at MacLaren. ‘This is something we’re not aware of being attempted anywhere else in the world – to try and knit a company together in this way. This is not just an advertising effort. This is a brand identity repositioning effort.’

Presenting a unified face for Rogers’ increasingly diverse communications properties will be crucial in an industry where companies are aggressively marketing bundled products and services.

‘At a time when Ted [Rogers] has made some pretty significant investments for the future of this company, with alliances like British Telecom, AT&T and Microsoft, he’s looking at creating something that has an indelible impression in a megabrand sort of way,’ says Ania Russocki, assistant vice-president, marketing communications, with Rogers. ‘It’s pulling all the pieces together. We have a lot in common – wireless and cable – and we’ve never really had the opportunity to bring it together.’

The inaugural television spot will weld together Rogers AT&T – rebranded to reflect AT&T’s investment in the wireless business last summer – and Rogers Cablesystems, which currently houses Rogers@Home, Rogers Video, Rogers Television and Rogers Digital Choice TV.

The spot opens at the remote edges of the solar system and begins to hurtle through space, whizzing by planets and asteroids as it highlights some of the innovations Rogers has contributed to the Canadian communications industry.

The wireless version of the commercial – which will conclude with the voiceover ‘Cantel, now Rogers AT&T. More ways to communicate than you ever thought possible. Imagine.’ – will run for a couple of weeks in heavy weights on purchased media.

The Imagine theme is intended to transcend the various business units of Rogers by capturing three core characteristics of the brand, says Carver: imaginative, innovative, and possessing joie de vivre.

‘Imagine is much more open-ended, [with] much more aspirational qualities,’ says Carver, comparing it to the previous ‘Imagine That’ tagline. ‘It’s also a word that has magical qualities and a word that will bring the vision forward in a way that’s really exciting.’

A tactical spot to promote a wireless offer will also break on Jan. 17, and is scheduled to run for the balance of the first quarter. Meanwhile, advertising for Rogers@Home Internet service is slated to break in mid-February, after the initial corporate spots have created a ‘template’ for the look and feel of the overall brand identity, says Carver. Rogers has not decided whether it will use television to promote its new retail locations, which will reportedly open in April.

As Rogers prepares to kick off a major rebranding campaign, one of its chief rivals has placed its creative and media accounts in review.

Calgary-based Shaw Communications is currently holding discussions with a number of agencies, and hopes to have a shortlist of three to four shops in place by the end of February, with a decision to follow in March or April. The shortlist will include seven-year incumbent In-House Advertising Group, the Calgary agency that created Shaw’s last significant branding campaign, Going Our Way, in 1997.