In 1964, the telecommunications landscape in the United States was rapidly changing. That year, Pacific Northwest Bell – a regional Bell Operating Company serving the states of Washington, Oregon, and Idaho – released a unique advertising record promoting their long distance service. Produced by the renowned San Francisco-based advertising firm Guild, Bascom & Bonfigli and distributed by N.W. Ayer & Son, this record provides a fascinating glimpse into the world of 1960s advertising.
At the time, long distance phone calls were a luxury that not everyone could afford. AT&T Long Distance was the dominant player in the industry, and smaller regional companies like Pacific Northwest Bell had to find innovative ways to differentiate themselves from the competition. That’s where Guild, Bascom & Bonfigli came in. The advertising firm was known for their creative and sometimes quirky campaigns, and their work on this record was no exception.
The record itself features a variety of jingles and slogans promoting Pacific Northwest Bell’s long distance service. The music is upbeat and catchy, and the lyrics tout the convenience and affordability of making long distance calls with Pacific Northwest Bell. One jingle even encourages listeners to “get on the phone and roam,” a nod to the growing trend of travel and exploration in the 1960s.
The record sent to radio stations as part of various promotional campaigns. The goal was to have the stations play the advertisements on the air, reaching potential customers in the Pacific Northwest Bell service area. Along with the record, a letter was included that outlined the schedule for each advertisement to be played. While it’s unclear how effective this strategy was at driving sales, it’s clear that Guild, Bascom & Bonfigli’s creative approach to advertising helped to set Pacific Northwest Bell apart from its competitors in the highly competitive telecommunications industry of the 1960s.
Of course, the telecommunications industry has come a long way since 1964. The advent of the internet, mobile phones, and other technologies have made long distance calls cheaper and more accessible than ever before. But this record remains a fascinating artifact of a bygone era – a time when making a long distance call was a special occasion, and when advertising was an art form in its own right.
It’s interesting to think about how much the telecommunications industry has evolved in the decades since this record was released. But as we reflect on the past, it’s clear that the creativity and ingenuity of advertising professionals like Guild, Bascom & Bonfigli continue to shape the way companies promote their products and services today.