AT&T Rips Seams From Corporate Blue-Suit Image In Ads

AT&T has shed the staunch blue-suit image for a hipper corporate look with an advertising campaign called "Your Seamless World" that features mobile services geared toward the on-the-go lifestyle of today's consumers and businesses.

The ad campaign that conveys a younger and edgier style for the high-tech wireless world launches today and runs through the end of the year. The new image borrows the color orange from AT&T Wireless--formerly Cingular--to become the company's primary color, though the corporate logo remains blue. Ads, signage and Web site are getting a color makeover. Continued use of the globe and the color blue highlights AT&T's reputation for reliability and innovation. Orange reflects the contemporary, youthful and edgier vibe Cingular contributed.

The makeover aims to differentiate AT&T's new image from the traditional one that began in 1885 as American Telephone & Telegraph Company. It's a message that surfaces in consumer research the San Antonio, Texas, carrier conducts daily across the country, according to Scott Perkins, assistant vice president of advertising at AT&T. "Most people still define AT&T as the traditional phone company," he says. "We're trying to change that by helping people understand we're a mobility company that can deliver phone, Internet, television and wireless services."



Omnicom Group's BBDO handled the creative chores for television, radio, outdoor and online ads. The nation's second-largest advertiser pulled the plug on GSD&M earlier this year and gave lead agency responsibilities worth an estimated $3.3 billion to BBDO, which supported AT&T Wireless for the past five years.

AT&T hired Wes Anderson, who directed several award-winning movies, including "Rushmore," "The Royal Tenenbaums" and "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou," to oversee six new TV spots dubbed "College Kid," "Reporter," "Mom," "Architect," "Actor" and "Businessman."

The whimsical ads underscore "Your World Delivered," a message AT&T continues to emphasize since merging with SBC Communications in November 2005. To the point, a charming actor portrays a movie star in one 30-second TV spot, explaining he lives in Hollywood but works on Broadway in New York, in Tombstone, Arizona, a part of South America you might not have heard of, and London, England. "I need a network that works where I live," he says. "A place called Hollyyorkazonasouthameraland."

The ads aim at a variety of professions, such as actors, architects, businesspeople, and yes, even reporters, as well as moms and students. In another spot, a well-dressed 20-something-year-old male who grew up in Philadelphia sits in his parents' kitchen explaining his schooling in Delaware. Mom interrupts by asking "what are you doing, son?"--to which he replies, "I'm texting, Mom," before going on to explain he needs a network that can reach Philawearpraugacago because his brother goes to school in Prague, and a bunch of friends study in Chicago.

Similar to the TV spots, AT&T gives consumers access to an online destination called "Digital World." The campaign debuts Sept. 24 to help customers create the name of their special connected world by going online and typing in the cities where they work, live or play. Consumers can have the squished-together name printed on t-shirts, cups and other paraphernalia they can buy through an AT&T Souvenir Store that launches in October.

Digital World lets consumers create their world. "It's really about their world and lives; their DNA, not AT&T," says Troy Ruhanen, executive vice president/managing director at BBDO North America. "We're giving them the opportunity to create a statement about themselves."

The new AT&T campaign also offers an online destination that appeals to today's youth. It targets ages 14 to 24, offering a place to create what the carrier calls a "digital personality." By going online and answering several questions, consumers create a digital fingerprint, or persona, with colors and shapes they can share and exchange in an online viral community.

NFL football icons Tennessee Titans' Vince Young, and San Diego Charger's LaDainian Tomlinson, as well as actress Christine Cavalier and "American Idol" contestant Elliott Yamin, among other celebrities, have been recruited to appear in the campaign later this month and the first to have digital DNA strands, Ruhanen says.

Those who opt in will receive incentives and details about AT&T products and services that match their interests, such as special offers on text messages.

During the past several months, AT&T began to transform the brand into a mobility-centric powerhouse by kicking off efforts in early May to prepare for the launch Apple's iPhone. The push includes signs at 1,800 company-owned stores and re-branded billing materials, handsets and packaging among other efforts. Within weeks of the late June iPhone launch, awareness of AT&T as a wireless brand surpassed the Cingular brand for the first time, and customers recognized AT&T as the "best" or "one of the best" companies in the wireless space.

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