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I2m_verizon_fiosfanatics2_2 The first time I learned about Verizon’s new FiOS service was not online (though they have a great site), but at a festival event near where I live in Virginia.  At the event they had the typical basketball games to win a prize, balloons, and an internet connection to let people find out if the Verizon FiOS network is available in their area.  Unfortunately for me, my home is not in their range yet – but like many cable consumers I would gladly switch if I could.  With a large percentage of US consumers feeling trapped in a cable monopoly with no alternatives, anyone offering the possibility of a choice is likely to be welcomed into the community.  For a company like Verizon which has had to deal with the defection of their telephone customers who are ditching their landlines to switch to VOIP – this welcome from the community must be particularly sweet.

I2m_verizon_fios_howardr_1 Building on the chance to reconnect with local communities, Verizon is getting smart about building in local level grassroots marketing efforts to supplement the typical online banners and TV spots they are still doing.  Recently, a friend pointed me to a great example of this strategy at  Verizon has launched the site as a local effort to market to residents of Chester County in Pennslyvania.  The site includes videos of potential cast members, a call for visitors to vote for their choices for members of the cast, and an event calendar of local events Verizon is participating in.  Perhaps most interesting, however, is the fact that all the casting auditions featured on the site are real interviews with local residents of Chester County – like Howard R.  Howard is my friend’s father, and is going for the role of Mayor.  I promised her I would direct people to check out his audition on the site and vote for him (who says blogs can’t win elections?) Verizon promised to shoot the film starting in October in Chester County, and do a "world premiere" in November.  The campaign looks like a brilliant way to engage consumers on a local level, tie in to the Internet and TV capabilities of FiOS, and generate huge local awareness and perhaps even national interest.  I wonder if there are plans to do similar grassroots campaigns in other major local markets …