Advertising wars: AT&T is losing

What do you do when a bully starts an advertising war? Well, let’s see what AT&T is doing.

AT&T scored big with the iPhone, probably making competitors jealous. Then their network couldn’t handle the data demands and those competitors licked their lips.

Big bad Verizon knows an opportunity when it sees one and attacked. Their misfit toys ad was brilliant.

We ask the same question asked in the ad, “Why is the iPhone on the island of misfit toys?” Then, the AT&T coverage map pops up. Verizon followed up with a campaign of “maps” ads that hit hard.

AT&T tried to sue and then created maps commercials of their own. Two big missteps, don’t you think?

Luke Wilson is likable enough and the commercials are so-so. But there’s no bang. If you’re going to take on the big bully, you have to have something strong to come back with. They have nothing in these ads, and they know it.

AT&T launches a second wave. One campaign responds to Verizon’s attack and another takes a different approach. Smart, right? They can still market to their strength while knocking down Verizon’s argument. A double whammy!

But no! The new ad comes out and the double whammy hits AT&T like a schoolyard slap. Not only is their new ad annoying, but it’s a pathetic ripoff of a popular old Budweiser ad. See for yourself:

What’s next? Maybe they should do a “Can you hear me now?” campaign—that would be more fitting. Or maybe they should spend less on advertising and more on improving their network. (See Gizmodo for details.)

When they do fix their network problems, they should then figure out what their strength is and market to that strength. Most of all, they need to be original. And if they need inspiration, they should check out their own print campaign. After all, it won “America’s Favorite Magazine Ad” in July 2009.

What do you think? Will AT&T ever rival Verizon in the ad game?

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