Cincinnati Bell Inc. provides telecommunications and technology services to residential and business customers in the Greater Cincinnati and Dayton area, and are preparing to serve Hawaii with their acquisition of Hawaiian Telecom.

Rebel Pilgrim started partnering with Cincinnati Bell in 2016 to produce emotionally-engaging content for their social, digital, and broadcast channels in direct response to the increased marketing of their chief competitor, Spectrum. Our work started with their 2017 Super Bowl commercial and we’re currently in the middle of producing an 8-part commercial series called “Connection Stories.” The first of that series made its broadcast debut during the 2018 Grammys and ran frequently during the Winter Olympics.


Spectrum entered the Greater Cincinnati / Dayton market under their new name in the winter of 2016 with a marketing spend four times that of Cincinnati Bell’s. Spectrum (formerly Time Warner) is a $47B company while Cincinnati Bell is a $2B company. The challenge was figuring out how to compete against a company with a comparatively larger marketing budget. The newly rebranded Spectrum began marketing their aggressive offerings in the Greater Cincinnati market. It’s a David vs. Goliath scenario.


We began our work with them in the winter of 2016 with our Story Dive process. We were brought in to reimagine their storytelling in response to the Spectrum launch. Through our Story Dive process, we identified together that Cincinnati Bell’s main customers want to be connected to what truly matters. So we laid out a plan to begin video production and start telling those types of stories throughout 2017.

In December of 2017, we started producing the 8-part “Connection Stories.” The first story featured Cincinnati Bell’s CFO, Andy Kaiser.

We sat down with Andy for 30 minutes and listened to his amazing story about his son, Sully, doing a school project about his grandpa, a Korean war veteran. From those notes, we began crafting the 30 second version of the story. Now, it’s not hard like coal mining is hard, but it’s quite a challenge to turn a multi-faceted, emotional 30 minute story into a 30 second story and still make it tug on your heartstrings. But we always turn to our Storytelling Framework for help.

We found the Hook in the endearing contrast between Andy’s father being a tough old war veteran who also got very emotional when Sully asked to interview him. The Heart of the story is the father/son, multi-generational connection. The hardest part was cutting the Fat because Andy had so many heartfelt emotional moments in the story we couldn’t include. The Thread we wove through the spot was the pride and joy Andy felt from seeing Sully connect with grandpa. We landed the Plane with Andy’s authentic response to that connection.


Andy’s story made its broadcast debut during the 2018 Grammys and ran frequently during the Winter Olympics. But for us, the best moment was when we showed the spot to Andy and his fellow executives at Cincinnati Bell and watched them all get a little misty and beam with pride. Everyone (unless you’re a heartless robot) loves father-son stories. It was an honor to tell this emotional story and help Cincinnati Bell use it to connect with their customers in a meaningful way. And what’s exciting is we’re just getting started on the video marketing for this Connection Series.