Verizon's Style Book For Deploying "Can You Hear Me Now" Guy

You know the Verizon “Can you hear me now?” guy? Of course you do. Verizon has been pouring branding equity into the lil fella for years. You can’t leverage a character across a big company like that without developing a special “style guide” Verizon developed to govern how his likeness is used in various marketing campaigns. It’s quite hilarious, and a former company employee sent it to us to share with you.

Verizon Wireless “Test Man” Usage Guidelines

Consumers and current customers should view Test Man as the embodiment of a Verizon Wireless employee whose sole purpose is to test our network. As Verizon Wireless employees, we know we have the best network in the Nation. He represents our relentless pursuit of making sure that we continue to make it even better. He embodies the true spirit and personality of our company in that Verizon Wireless employees are relentless, obsessive and committed to meeting our customers needs. We are particularly relentless when it comes to making sure our network is the best that it can be. It’s important to remember that Test Man embodies our brand, “We never stop working for you”, but he does not replace it. When he appears live in a TV commercial, Event or Personal Appearance the following are the parameters to follow:

• He should always appear in approved “uniform” which is reflective of his environment. Approved uniforms to date consist of the following:
– Grey jacket w/embroidered logo, gray pants, black glasses, black shoes
– Khaki green hip waders w/ embroidered logo on front flap
– Dark gray hooded parka w/embroidered patch on right breast
– Blue work shirt w/sleeves rolled up, white t-shirt underneath

• Test Man should always be in character. The only line he says is “Can you hear me now? Good!” This enables him to appear completely focused on what he is doing.

• His sole purpose is to test our network. In so doing, he takes a step, or a few steps, and then says the line “Can you hear me now? Good!” He should say “Good!” in a variety of different ways to maintain interest. Occasionally he may put more emphasis on “Good!” That emphasis strengthens the thought that he has gotten a good connection.

• The Test Man character is owned by Verizon Wireless. As a representative of our Network testing and our brand, he can never be associated with or be used to promote anything other than Verizon Wireless. He cannot represent an Indirect agent, or even a local business where we are having an event.

• He line should always be used in its entirety. No partial line and no use of “Can you hear me now?” without “Good!” to follow.

• “Can you hear me now? Good!” can only be used to represent Test Man and his testing of our Network. It cannot be associated with any other activity.

• He should appear focused on what he is doing and relentless in his mission to test our network.

• At live events, he should not be interviewed by the press or have conversations with customers or other attendees at the event. The focus should remain on his character as a representation of our Best Network strategy, rather than on the person hired to portray the Test Man.

• He should always be in the context of a location or situation, and should never appear without a background or sense of where he is in testing the network. However, because he is so focused on the job, he occasionally is oblivious as to what is going on around him within the situation he is placed.

• Locations and situations should be varied when possible, including interior and exterior scenes. He should not appear in any location where you have not confirmed coverage. A location that is remote in nature (i.e. a desert) needs to be approved by HQ legal council before use. Also, Test Man should appear in geography that doesn’t necessarily represents your Area in order to give further credibility to the fact that he tests our network Nationwide.

• Test Man will come across folks from various ethnicities in order to evoke VZWs sense of and respect for diversity.

• In order to retain the equity we’ve built in the “V” sign, some of the people Test Man comes across will give him the “V” sign. He does not have to give the “V” sign back unless it feels natural to him. However, he must acknowledge them so that he does not appear to be aloof or rude. Remember, Test Man is focused but needs to portray a likeable character.

Some additional guidelines to follow:

Test man is:

25-35 years old
Entertaining
The embodiment of Verizon Wireless employees
Relentless in his mission
Friendly
Every day guy
A bit quirky
A little obsessive and compulsive
Likeable character
Appealing to all ethnicities

Test Man is not:

Annoying
Goofy
Easily distracted
Aloof
Stupid
Too “pretty”

Examples of Events that do not adhere to usage guidelines and will not be
approved:

• Look-alike contests
• Marching in parades
• “Meet and greet” with customers
• Any activity where he is not testing the network (i.e. sitting in a hot tub)

Comments

Edit Your Comment

  1. liquisoft says:

    Big business eat style guides up. It’s like crack to them. I’ve never come across a style guide pertaining to a character, though.

  2. homerjay says:

    “whose sole purpose is to test our network.”

    Does it mention anything about requiring Test Man to slowly develop a large protruding brain tumor?

  3. Scooter says:

    -Too “pretty”-

    Well, there goes my dream of being the Verizon guy.

  4. Lin-Z [linguist on duty] says:

    They really like using the word “relentless.” good!

  5. UpsetPanda says:

    Someone needs to post those descriptive attributes onto eHarmony.com or match.com…I wonder how many guys reply, considering themselves not too “pretty.”

    It’s possible that Verizon guy needs a Verizon girl.

    I think it’s hilarious that they use “sitting in a hot tub” as an example of what Verizon guy is not approved to be doing. I mean, anything mundale and normal like “reading a book” or “ordering Chinese takeout” would suffice, but someone selected “sitting in a hot tub”…

  6. KevinQ says:

    I like it. I’m always fascinated by the ways companies try to protect their “brand identity.” Unless they’re just choosing to sue somebody, which is boring.

    Well done Verizon on having a vision and going with it.

    K

  7. spinachdip says:

    “Test Man is not:

    Annoying”

    Really, Verizon style guide? I must have been thinking of someone else then.

  8. mjgrady says:

    That’s actually a pretty interesting read. Seems like it’s been followed pretty darn closely, from everything I’ve seen that guy in.

  9. Bruce says:

    WARNING: This is a parody involving Verizon, profanity was used in it’s proper context by someone under stress and the audio quality is quite bad. If you are offended by profanity, please do not click on the link.

    [www.youtube.com]

  10. acasto says:

    I can’t believe idiots go to college to sit around all day writing this crap. I can only hope the people who live in these mba dream worlds eventually hang themselves from their ties.

  11. leejames says:

    Verizon has some insane style guides. A decade ago when they first became “Verizon” I saw the 30-page (!) guide explaining the significance of the Verizon brand name and symbol. Lots of superlatives about the good feelings associated with a checkmark and how the name was a merger of the words ‘horizon’ and… I dunno, ‘very?’

  12. spinachdip says:

    @acasto: We mock, but guidelines like this are a vital part of corporate communications, especially when you have to entrust a piece of branding, like the Verizon Guy, to hundreds of branch offices, retailers and vendors.

    Too many companies *don’t* spend enough time and energy on developing and maintaining their brand. Nothing bugs me more than local dealerships undermining a brand that took years and thousands of manhours to develop.

  13. Foxtrot-Yankee says:

    “Some additional guidelines to follow:

    Test man is:


    The embodiment of Verizon Wireless employees

    Friendly”

    Well, they should make up their mind. It can’t be both.

  14. mammalpants says:

    in defense of verizon, if they didnt have this, some marketing schmuck would definitely want to “Urbanize him by 10% or so” or “IT him up a bit”. praise to verizon for this little detail that is laughable, but necessary in order to maintain brand consistency.

  15. Floobtronics says:

    See, the thing is, I always found these commercials funny, and not in the way vzw wanted me to.. To me, the “Can You Hear Me Now?” bits said to me, “You need to walk around to find just the right spot to use our network.”

  16. spinachdip says:

    @mammalpants: And you can only imagine what some third party retailer will try to do with the guy. “Sitting in a hot tub” wouldn’t be anywhere close to the worst case scenario.

  17. 4ster says:

    I dressed as this guy for Halloween last year.

  18. dj_skilz says:

    @LEE-REAMSNYDER:

    Verizon = Veritas + Horizon

  19. Nytmare says:

    Verizon = Vulture + emu + rhino + zebra + lion

    Anyway, a brand style guide is funny because this “brand”, like many brands, has no physical relation to Verizon’s actual products or services. It’s a bucket of fluff. “You must arrange the fluff just so, in order to captivate the customer.”

  20. nffcnnr says:

    @@4ster: i went as the Verizon guy in 2003 cuz he resembels me and i’m notoriously lazy when it comes to Halloween costumes. i already wear chunky glasses, grey clothing and short brown hair. allz i had to do was shave my beard and find a cell phone as prop. done.

  21. Recury says:

    Style guides are pretty much always hilarious. They sound so serious. ALWAYS do this and NEVER do that even when it’s something like “the Geico gecko should always awkwardly force some sales point into his annoying friendly British guy routine.”

  22. Trae says:

    @Floobtronics: It was even better in the original commercials… before they added him saying “Good!” afterwards. Back then he was just asking “Can you hear me now?” and moving on…

  23. matukonyc says:

    I’ve always been curious about the actors who portray these types of characters (the Geico cavemen also come to mind). I wonder what they’re contracts look like, and who they are, but obviously that knowledge is purposefully kept under wraps.

  24. You hate your job but you're still working there? says:

    No way I’m taking that job if I’m not allowed to get paid for sitting in a hot tub!

  25. gretch9er says:

    I actually have a friend who knows this guy. I heard that after he auditioned for the part, he petitioned to have the “Black Glasses” added to his costume to partially disguise his face, because he didn’t want people coming up to him on the street telling him how annoying he/his commercials were…

  26. vzchickadee says:

    This guide must be really out of date. I worked with him at a store opening earlier this year and the guidelines have changed a lot. For instance, he absolutely can NOT say, “Can you hear me now? Good,” anymore.

    He now has about 5 approved things he can say, including “Yes,” “No,” and “It’s the Network.”

  27. rmz says:

    “He should not appear in any location where you have not confirmed coverage.”

    Hilarious. I can see him doing the “can you hear me now?” thing and then someone shouting from the crowd “NO! My phone says No Service here!”

  28. Edmund_Burke says:

    Mr. Verizon Guy (Paul Marcarelli) must be making SICK $ + Residuals for the entire campaign being basically based around himself…

  29. Erik_the_Awful says:

    It appears that Verizon outsourced their Quality Assurance department to Marketing.

  30. Bay State Darren says:

    As a college student/non-real worlder, I often look condescendingly down upon the corporate world as dreadfully vapid and unfilling, largely based upon little more than Office Space. I love being given solid evidence like this.

    My favorite quotes:
    -“true spirit and personality of our company” Corporations aren’t people! I’ll let you anthropmorhize your cat like this, but I draw the line here.

    -“Verizon Wireless employees are relentless, obsessive and committed to meeting our customers needs” You might not want to let your competition hear this ultra-secret strategy, they’d never think of it on their own and might steal it.

    -“Test Man will come across folks from various ethnicities in order to evoke VZWs sense of and respect for diversity.” But if it’s the dude from the TV ads, down to the Grey jacket w/embroidered logo, gray pants, black glasses, black shoes, etc. does that also require him to be caucasian and male?

    -and best of all, “The only line he says is ‘Can you hear me now? Good!’ “, “At live events, he should not be interviewed by the press or have conversations with customers or other attendees at the event.”, etc. Wow, how’s that for an exciting event! “CanYouHearMeNowGood.CanYouHearMeNowGood.CanYouHearMeNowGood.CanYouHearMeNowGood.”
    over and over again. People will basically just be watching the freakin’ commercial in person with zero variation. I know that’ll get me phone-buying!

  31. Bay State Darren says:

    @nytmare: You read my mind! Thank you for letting me know the voices in my head weren’t just speaking for themselves.

    BTW, I meant anthropomorphicize. I spealt my own imaginary verb wrong.

  32. Brad2723 says:

    Verizon still sucks… If they really want to improve on their image, they’ll do something about their customer service dept.

  33. Yozzie says:

    • Test Man will come across folks from various ethnicities in order to evoke VZWs sense of and respect for diversity.

    Either that’s totally meaningless corporate bumf, or the raunchiest diversity statement ever.

  34. gwinerreniwg says:

    This all seems laughable until you’ve worked in a large corporation. In those circumstances, you have hundreds, or likely thousands of managers with some type of advertising budget for their territories or reps, and goals of making sales. Without explicit guidelines, your carefully crafted corporate spokesperson, ends up on the Gary Indiana local news, stuffing down hot dogs for the local Verizon store promo. Sad, but true. As Chris Blackwell (founder of Island records) once said: “I like a small band of mercenaries over a large army any day. Corporations are like armys.”

  35. BugMeNot2 says:

    what about the real network testers (who, by the way do not work for verizon directly, because a direct employ would not be impartial enough for them, they use contractors), driving in mobile IT depts trucks day in and day out actually testing the netowrks.

  36. Trackback says:

    The rulebook to being Verizon’s "Can You Hear Me Now?" guy has been leaked to The Consumerist. Naturally, it’s pathetic: a slick, slimy, overcrafted personality mold designed to appeal to a computer-generated demographic segment. Test Man must be "Appealing to all ethnicities.&

  37. brianliu says:

    “he occasionally is oblivious as to what is going on around him”

    Verizon is amazing. When I grow up, I aspire to be the Test Man.

  38. Trackback says:

    A turd by any other name is still a turd, but there’s no harm in counting the ways.• They stifle progress Cellular giants know they’ve hit on a winner and they don’t want the landscape moving underfoot. Any change not under their own control is dangerous.

  39. AlltelRep says:

    Chad is better.