AT&T Prepares For iPhone Launch, Furthers Rebranding Efforts

In advance of the late-June release of the Apple iPhone, AT&T, the iPhone's exclusive U.S. service provider, is accelerating its efforts to rebrand its former Cingular stores to AT&T so that customers will have no doubt about the brand identity of Apple's partner for the most anticipated technological debut of the year.

"Being able to say that they are offering the iPhone will focus a tremendous amount of attention on AT&T," telecom industry analyst Jeff Kagan told Marketing Daily. "They have to have a unified marketing message moving forward."

This latest phase of rebranding, which follows some initial steps taken immediately after the completion of AT&T's merger with BellSouth--which gave it complete ownership over Cingular Wireless--builds on the nearly 98% consumer awareness and virtually 100% business awareness of the AT&T brand, an AT&T spokesman Brad Mays told Marketing Daily.

"Since the campaign launched in early 2007, awareness of AT&T as a wireless provider has increased more than 80 percent," Mays says.



"Not only is consumer awareness of AT&T high and ahead of expectations, but AT&T's image for being a wireless provider that is 'delivering technology that is relevant to you,' and 'offering innovative ways to meet your everyday needs' is now at a level equal to that of Cingular before the merger on Dec. 29," Mays says.

Analyst Kagan is supportive of the rebranding transition. "Cingular was an amazing success story," Kagan says. "They did a great job of building that brand, but the marketplace is a different marketplace now, and the competition is changing. It makes sense to have a single, master brand."

The latest phase of the rebranding campaign was effected overnight between May 20 and 21. AT&T replaced the Cingular brand with AT&T on all in-store signage, store kiosks and point-of-sale materials in approximately 1,800 company-owned wireless retail stores. Key stores in major markets also installed new exterior signage displaying the new brand. The rebranding of agent-owned retail stores is expected to be completed by January.

More broadly, AT&T and the AT&T logo will be more prominently featured throughout the company's advertising and customer communications during this phase of the rebranding campaign. Cingular will be replaced with the new AT&T in voice greetings, on customer handsets and handset screen displays, and on envelopes and billing statements.

The transitional phrase, "Wireless from AT&T, formerly Cingular," has begun replacing the phrase, "Cingular is now the new AT&T," in TV, radio and outdoor ads, though the color orange, previously associated with Cingular, will be transitioned to an association with the AT&T Wireless brand.

Advertising across all media will focus on AT&T's ongoing, post-merger strategy of delivering bundled services across wireless, landline, high-speed Internet and TV-what the company calls "Quad Play." A broadcast TV spot called "Russian Dolls" by GSD&M currently airing in 22 markets focuses on the addition of AT&T Wireless to AT&T's service portfolio.

"In today's competitive environment, it's essential to be able to market the entire bundle of services-particularly the key component of wireless-under a single brand," Mays told Marketing Daily. "The rebranding efforts follow that rationale and further support AT&T's goal of being the only entertainment and communications provider our customers will ever want."

Kagan agrees that this is on track with the way the telecom industry is headed. "The future is all about the bundle," he says. "The majority of the telecom marketplace will be buying bundles, and it's all about marketing bundles."

As all operations are moved under a single brand, AT&T expects to realize related synergies with an estimated net present value of approximately $2.8 billion, the company says.

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