AT&T's coverage would be great … if we lived in a fantasy world!

By David Kiefaber on Tue Dec 14 2010


AT&T's campaign for its new mobile network suggests its coverage would be great even in make-believe places (and maybe one Anthrax album). I guess they're trying to say that if they've got a place like Lilliput covered, they won't have any trouble providing adequate service in the mundane here and now. But the Los Angeles Times sticks a convincing pin in the "if false, then anything" logic behind these ads. See, this is why more philosophy majors need to work in marketing. AT&T's retreat from reality might have to do with its atrocious Consumer Reports ranking and flailing response in the form of a press release claiming its network was faster than both Verizon's and Sprint's. Which may be true, but that pales in the face of other, more basic issues like dropped calls and bad customer service. We've already seen similar desperation with Blockbuster's "Hey, we're still here!" campaign, but AT&T's crack at it is almost sadder.

Local search is quite an emotional experience at AT&T's

By David Kiefaber on Wed Sep 15 2010

AT&T is rebranding as, a hip, modern local search site for people too busy to read or type entire words. The telecom titan hired Butler, Shine, Stern and Partners to make some ads for them. "Click less. Live more" is the slogan they came up with, and the TV, print, outdoor and digital ads will explore the human side of Web searches. So far, the ads range from the obvious (Mom with a sick child looking up pharmacies) to the fairly inventive (a guy looking for auto parts to recapture a childhood memory), and the idea is to move beyond the "functional" side of local searching into the "emotional" side, according to AT&T advertising vp Erick Soderstrom. (In a bizarre Mr. Miyagi moment, Soderstrom adds that modern Web searching is "less about what you are trying to find as opposed to what are the resources you are looking for.") Check out a second spot after the jump.

Continue reading "Local search is quite an emotional experience at AT&T's" »

AT&T creates lavish undersea adventure in 3-D in new BBDO ad

Posted on Mon Jun 28 2010

Moviegoers would be forgiven for assuming this latest AT&T "Rethink possible" ad is a coming attraction for Finding Nemo 2. Shot in 3-D, the BBDO-produced animated spot shows a small fish trying to squirrel away a small orange ball. Being a small fish, he gets harassed by bigger fish and eventually drops his prize. Then he breaks away toward a light visible above the surface. Looking over the waterline, he spots endless trees dropping the orange balls. The message: Look beyond your current comfort zone, and you may be lavishly rewarded. Or something like that. Does it relate to AT&T? Yeah, I guess, if you think about it. Maybe more if you look at the big picture: AT&T has produced a cinematic 3-D spot with an original score, therefore allowing viewers to rethink what's possible in a TV/cinema spot. Note: A BBDO rep said the spot, which was produced with movie audiences in mind, made its debut yesterday during ESPN's 3-D's coverage of the World Cup.

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

Nick Drake, no longer such an obscure voice, returns in AT&T ad

Posted on Wed May 26 2010

Back in 1999, I, like many people, discovered Nick Drake through a Volkswagen commercial. At the time, the carmaker had gotten some press by (imagine!) releasing its "Milky Way" ad from Arnold (posted below) on the Internet a week before it hit TV. The other thing worth noting about that spot was that it featured Drake's song "Pink Moon." At the time, Drake was a mostly forgotten British musician from the early '70s who committed suicide before he made much of an impact on the U.S. music scene, though his influence on Robert Smith of the Cure and Stuart Murdoch of Belle and Sebastian was recognized later. Since then, he's become much better known, in part because of that VW ad. Now, 11 years later, AT&T has tapped another Drake tune, "From the Morning," for its "Rethink Possible" campaign (above) from BBDO. It's a great song, but the connection with the marketer isn't quite as logical. (The ad shows fabric being draped over famous U.S. sites like the Gateway Arch in St. Louis to illustrate AT&T's wireless coverage. In contrast, the VW ad was about a group of friends who were so intoxicated by the night sky that they didn't want to get out of the car and go to a party.) "Pink Moon" also had such an impact back then because it was obscure, which Drake no longer is. But there's still a lot of great '70s music out there that hasn't had its day. Agency folks, if you need help finding some of that stuff, start here.

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

It's Apple's turn to strike back at that scoundrel Verizon Wireless

Posted on Tue Nov 24 2009

It seems Verizon Wireless is getting to everyone. Last week, a federal judge said the carrier can continue to run its "There's a map for that" takeoff of Apple's "There's an app for that" spots, thus delivering a setback to AT&T, the iPhone's exclusive U.S. carrier. AT&T had sued Verizon over the campaign, which compares coverage maps and claims Verizon has five times more coverage than AT&T. Now, it's Apple's turn to take a jab at Verizon. In its new round of iPhone ads, Apple deftly illustrates various apps and then ends with: "Can your phone and your network do that?" But don't miss the fine print at the end of the commercial: "3G not available in all areas."

—Posted by Noreen O'Leary

Seth the Blogger Guy jumps on his sword for the good of AT&T

Posted on Tue Sep 8 2009

You've gotta give AT&T some props. Instead of sitting by flat-footed as consumers bad-mouthed the brand all over the Web for its spotty service, it has sent a sacrificial lamb, a guy named Seth, out there on YouTube. "Look, we see the discussions on the Web, on blogs, on Twitter, on Facebook," says Seth the Blogger Guy, "so we thought it would be a good idea to take what's being said head-on." Seth (who isn't a blogger—he's so called because he does blogger outreach to tech writers in his role as a vp at PR firm Fleishman-Hillard) then goes through a list of excuses why AT&T service sometimes isn't up to speed: It's all those damn smart phones. They've created an "astounding amount of data demand" that can strain AT&T's network despite the company's $38 billion investment in it. Oh yeah, and MMS service for the iPhone? It's coming Sept. 25, even though the MMS-enabled iPhone has been out since June. Judging by the comments on YouTube, Seth only seems to be irritating users even more. "Is this a joke?" one asks. "Bunch of damn LIARS," rails another. Still, AT&T has its supporters. "Give them a break, 300% a year is a lot of data," adds one sympathetic commentor. My take: It was good to get Seth out there, but he should have gone out a lot sooner. But AT&T at least is over the hurdle: Admitting you have a problem is the first step.

—Posted by Todd Wasserman

AT&T not really having the most wonderful day over on Twitter

Posted on Tue Jun 9 2009


The good news: AT&T is currently the No. 1 trending topic on Twitter. The bad news: That's because people are talking smack about the carrier for three reasons:
  1. Existing AT&T/iPhone customers have to pay $199-$299 to upgrade to the new iPhone.
  2. When the new iPhone is released on June 19, users won't be able to take advantage of MMS (multimedia messaging service—an expanded version of text messaging that incorporates graphics, photos and video clips, among other things). That's because AT&T has to manually remove all "opt-out MMS codes" on each account.
  3. Similarly, AT&T won't support "tethering," which is the ability to plug your iPhone into your computer and use that connection to surf the Internet.
  Reaction to all this news in the Twittersphere was swift. As AT&T's Twitterbot robotically plugged the phone's release, some took AT&T's lack of preparedness as a sign of friction between the carrier and Apple. "AT&T got almost zero mention at the keynote," noted one @MarkSheppard, referring to Apple's iPhone announcement. Most simply moaned about AT&T's ineptitude. "The fact that ATT won't have tethering and MMS is simply a joke," wrote @robertmurray. But perhaps @brickworkz said it best: "People were saying the Palm Pre would be the iPhone killer. ... nope, turns out that AT&T will be the iPhone killer."

—Posted by Todd Wasserman



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