Verizon’s invisible prepaid brand becomes more Visible

Visible, the Verizon-backed prepaid brand that until recently largely stayed under the radar with its all-digital and grassroots marketing approach, is taking its message to a wider audience with the launch of its first national TV ad campaign. 

Not just a few spots either. In what Jeffrey Moore, principal at Wave7 Research, described as a “major TV ad blitz,” the spot, which invites consumers to "Meet Visible," started airing May 17 across a mix of major networks and online. That includes ABC and NBC, cable networks CNN and Bravo, and local ads, as well as OTT platforms like Hulu. The spot will run nationwide and online for six weeks.  

According to Moore, this implies heavy spending and Visible – though operated independently - has the deep pockets of Verizon behind it. Visible declines to disclose subscriber figures but the national ad campaign should bring new eyeballs to the two-year-old brand, which also avoids retail store sales channels.  

Since quietly launching in 2018, over the last couple of years Visible’s largely been focused on organic channels, with investments geared toward building a pipeline on digital with things like paid social, web and video marketing, according to Visible Chief Marketing Officer Minjae Ormes, who spoke to FierceWireless about the new advertising push.

Coming out of March and into the second quarter, after feeling initial impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic and implications on consumer behavior, the team noticed a quick recovery in terms of metrics like site visits, Ormes said.  

RELATED: Visible: A slow train coming down the tracks?

This gave her team an early indicator that consumers were still or possibly more inclined to be shopping around for value choices that don't compromise experience, especially as many might find themselves more budget conscious due to financial impacts from the public health crisis.

Visible offers just one straight-forward $40 per month unlimited plan, and $25 for the first month for new customers. On Verizon’s 4G LTE network users are expected to get average download speeds of 5-12 Mbps, though the company said many experience faster than that. Upload speeds are usually 2-5 Mbps. It’s launched offers like Party Pay, which is similar to discounted family plans in postpaid but individuals are billed separately and only responsible for their portion of the plan. Earlier, Visible took steps to become more competitive like expanding support to include Android devices, and introducing device financing for certain handsets.

RELATED: Verizon’s Visible eliminates 5 Mbps data speed cap on $40 unlimited prepaid plan

As a prepaid brand offering a low-cost quality unlimited service, alongside its existing all-digital e-commerce business model, Visible seemed ready to align with shifting consumer behaviors. Still, Ormes acknowledged it took some reflection both personally and as a business in terms of the best way to show up for customers.

“[Visible's business model] kind of brings the best of both worlds where we can offer Verizon’s network and offer quality, but also at a price that’s affordable with experience we built on digital business,” she said. That digital experience is part of why now is a good time to try and reach more consumers that might be attracted to what Visible offers.

“Right now what seems to be top of mind for everyone is the fact that our storefront is the .com and our storefront is the app,” Ormes added, noting that’s enabled the company to continue “business-as-usual as can be” given the circumstances.

Many retailers are looking at how consumer behavior will shift and what retail experiences will look like in the aftermath of the coronavirus. Visible-parent Verizon is moving forward with a “touchless retail” strategy as it reopens store locations across the country.

Of the Visible campaign itself, first and foremost the company was looking at how to share its message in a way that would resonate and be relevant to consumers, according to Ormes, who came to Visible after spending almost seven years at YouTube, including roles as Global Head of Partner Marketing and Global Head of Media.

In working to strike the right tone, she said they ultimately landed on a pretty straightforward message, introducing who Visible is in terms of value proposition. The ad titled "Coverage" promotes messages like “Trim the bad, make the good better, way cheaper” and tells consumers it tosses things like “Footlong bills” and “Time-wasting stores.”

RELATED: Verizon’s Visible is trying to build a brand in a crowded prepaid market

In terms of investment channels and TV ads, “we wanted to think about all of the options on the table as to where and how we could show up with the right message to ultimately introduce Visible to more new people.”  

While investment is definitely happening to get the Visible name out with the new ad campaign, Ormes described linear TV and OTT as new things the business is testing out. Visible didn’t get back to Fierce about just how much was spent.

For Moore, now that Visible is moving into TV sales channels, it’s more aligned with prepaid brand Mint Mobile in terms of sales model. Mint Mobile uses TV to boost online sales and also avoids retail stores, other than SIMs from Mint Mobile, which are sold at Best Buy.

At only a week into the campaign, Ormes indicated it was too early to tell if the TV ads are helping drive business or if they’ll continue to be part of Visible’s strategy. 

“To me and my team it’s more about everything’s on the table but how do you utilize it as part of the overall marketing mix to make that interesting point,” Ormes said.