ATLANTA — GTE, the first wireless carrier to offer prepaid service in 1993, today begins a seven-week advertising campaign in its major markets to announce its new lowest-priced $80 prepaid wireless offering, which includes a phone and 30 minutes of airtime. The company has experienced explosive growth among prepaid customers and expects to double its prepaid customer base this year.
"Today, one in every four new customers signing up for service with GTE chooses prepaid service. We expect that number to grow," said Mike McDonough, Senior Vice President- Marketing, GTE Wireless. "Customers love to be able to predict expenses. With prepaid, they can choose exactly how much they want to spend on wireless service."
A humorous TV spot, outdoor billboards, print ads and radio commercials developed by Ogilvy and Mather, New York, encourages people to stop wrestling with themselves over getting wireless service. It is the first "all out" mass media advertising campaign of its kind to address the apprehensions of the largest group of wireless non-users. The highly-original campaign-the largest to date that promotes GTE's wireless prepaid wireless offering-- is appearing in Houston, San Francisco, San Diego, Indianapolis, Tampa, Nashville, Cleveland, Seattle, Cincinnati and Honolulu.
GTE Wireless first launched prepaid service in 1993 as "Pay-Go." GTE Wireless launched its current prepaid offering in April 1996 and enjoyed a 250 percent growth rate in its first full year of business. Between 1996 and 1997, GTE Wireless experienced 10 fold customer growth, going from 6,000 to more than 70,000 prepaid customers, with pre-paid adding nearly $10 million to GTE Wireless revenues in 1992.
"We were tapping new market segments, adding revenue with little to no fraud or bad debt risk. Plus, the cost to bring on a prepaid customer is 60 percent less than the cost of adding a traditional customer," said McDonough. "Early on, we saw our results and were ecstatic. That's why you are now seeing GTE prepaid cell phones next to Slim Jims and Slurpees in 7-11 stores. Prepaid is convenience. It's a natural fit."
The company offers prepaid service through its retail stores, participating authorized agent locations and through major outlets such as Radio Shack, 7-11, Circle K and Circuit City.
GTE Wireless provides wireless voice, paging and data telecommunications to more than 4.8 million customers in 17 states. GTE Wireless is part of GTE Corp. (NYSE: GTE). With 1998 revenues of more than $25 billion, GTE is one of the world's largest telecommunications companies and a leading provider of integrated telecommunications services.