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

By David Kiefaber on Tue Dec 14 2010

If-there-really-were

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.

Not a big fan of technology? You will love the Windows 7 phone

By Todd Wasserman on Mon Sep 27 2010

We've seen anti-technology ads from the likes of Dentyne before, but it's hard to recall such messaging bankrolled by a tech company. Until now, that is. A couple of ads for Microsoft's Windows 7 phone seem to make the claim that with the new device, we'll actually use our cell phones less. To underscore the problem, one ad (shown here) is a montage of cell-phone addicts missing real-life events to text or check their phones. One guy even drops his phone in a urinal and then retrieves it, eliciting a "Really?" from his neighbor at the next urinal. In another ad, a British woman chirps that her new W7 phone updates all the important stuff on the main window, allowing her to get in and get out, unlike the poor schlub behind her at the coffee shop who's holding up the queue. Maybe Microsoft is on to something here. After all, when was the last time you saw an ad from an oil company encouraging you to use more gasoline?

New Virgin Mobile ads tell kids it's better to be crazy than stupid

By Todd Wasserman on Tue Jul 20 2010

As Lindsay Lohan's plight shows, being a twentysomething these days isn't all peaches and cream. There are no jobs for you, and you have to wear those doofy semi-ironic fedoras or—for the fellas—unsightly facial hair. To make matters worse, advertisers are constantly telling you to be this or that. Earlier this year, for instance, Diesel made being stupid all the rage. But now, Virgin Mobile and its hipster ad agency, Mother, are telling Gen Y to "say goodbye to stupid" and hello to "crazy." Seems like solid advice. Upon greater reflection, being stupid isn't all that cool, but being crazy has its appeal, in that James Dean beautiful loser kind of way. If you could somehow be stupid and crazy, though, you might just be onto something.

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

Movies don't interrupt you. So, don't interrupt them, says Sprint.

Posted on Wed May 19 2010

Sprint is trying to do the right thing by telling people not to talk or text during movies, but the full effect of this 3-D cinema ad is lost in 2-D, since its focal points are the gimmicky 3-D immersion sequences. Still, we'll assume it looks awesome on the big screen! It's nice to see Sprint getting involved in the vital cell-phone-etiquette education process, as makes them look like a responsible company instead of a irresponsible, avaricious one. Which is handy, because Sprint could use a karmic balance reset after selling out its customers to the government last year.

—Posted by David Kiefaber

Why the long face? Oh, it's because you don't have Boost Mobile

Posted on Mon May 10 2010

They weren't kidding. The guy in this Boost Mobile commercial from iNSPIRE! certainly has a long face. The distressed gentleman is seen staring into his coffee at a diner, and boy is his face long! (A mother and daughter sitting nearby are so aghast that the child lets go of her balloon and it floats up.) When a waitress asks the guy if it's because of the coffee, he replies: "Oh, no. I'm always like this because of my wireless service's terrible signal. I have tons of dropped calls." The waitress, it turns out, used to have a long face, too—until she switched to Boost Mobile. iNSPIRE! says more iterations of the campaign are on the way, including one that portrays a mad face. Wonder what that one will look like.

—Posted by Elaine Wong

Bluetooth earpieces now with movies, music and sports themes

Posted on Thu Apr 15 2010

Earloomz

The licensed products we buy, especially the ones we wear on our bodies, say something about us, or at least that's the theory. So, when you see some guy sporting a Bluetooth earpiece stamped with Cheech and Chong's Up in Smoke, you could be forgiven for jumping to certain conclusions about his preferred leisure-time activity. A Ferris Bueller's Day Off earpiece? That guy intends to play hookey. The Godfather? The Twilight Zone? Good lord, stay out of his way! A Los Angeles-area marketer called Earloomz has begun adding entertainment and sports licenses to its Bluetooth gadgets via deals with Paramount, CBS Consumer Products, the NBA and others. It's a meeting of art, fashion and technology, say the company's press materials. On a day-to-day level, it means that fans of Happy Days, CSI: Miami, Mighty Mouse, The Little Rascals, Saturday Night Fever, Flashdance and The Warriors can show their attachment by literally attaching the property to their heads. Newest entries: the Boston Celtics and Lady Gaga (because there's no piece of real estate that won't eventually carry her name and image). They cost between $40 and $60. Small price to pay for telling the world about your Heckle and Jeckle obsession.

—Posted by T.L. Stanley

Puma and Droga5 promise a more playful breed of mobile phone

Posted on Thu Mar 25 2010

Puma

Fashion sure has evolved. It's not enough to wear the latest sneakers or sunglasses anymore. Cell phones have become a fashion statement, too. There's the Lamborghini phone, the Prada phone and now the Puma phone. The latter is expected to launch in 10 days, according to PumaPhone.com, which houses an interactive slideshow and informational videos on the device. Puma claims it has created the "first mobile phone dedicated to encouraging an active life outside of the phone." According to the apparel company, its phone will use the latest 3G cellular technology, but also have a "playful" side, featuring applications like "icon messaging, sarcastic calculator, scratching turntable [and] easy peasy video calls." Droga5, the agency behind the Puma-phone campaign, says more than 500,000 units have been pre-ordered. Doesn't seem like a bad start, considering the overly crowded mobile phone market.

—Posted by Elena Malykhina

Answers to all of your glue questions are just a call or text away

Posted on Wed Feb 24 2010

Glue

Ever break something and wonder what kind of glue you'll need to fix it? Pacer Technology, which owns Super Glue, has launched a new phone system that allows consumers to scout out the proper adhesive right away. Consumers can call (866) GLUE-911 or text "superglue" to 41411, answer "a series of short questions about the materials to be glued," and get advice on the right product for the job. (The glue maker has also set up Interactive Glue Guides in retail outlets.) Had BrandFreak known about this, she might've been able to successfully glue the chair she broke without super-gluing her hands. (We got it off by using a knife to carefully separate all three stuck-together fingers. Yikes!)

—Posted by Elaine Wong


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