AT&T may have lost the legal battle with Verizon Wireless over a marketing campaign that compares the 3G coverage of both carriers. But that doesn't mean AT&T is going away quietly.
The company is airing a commercial of its own, which features actor Luke Wilson inside what appears to be a warehouse, standing in front of an orange magnet board with a checklist that compares AT&T and Verizon. (Techmeme)
When it comes to the fastest 3G network, AT&T wins, Wilson says. If you want to talk and surf at the same time, AT&T wins. Who has the most popular smartphones? AT&T, of course, home of the iPhone. Who provides access to more than 100,000 apps? You guessed it. Then, in the category, he asks which has a name that starts with the letter V.
I'll give AT&T credit for making the attempt to even the playing field but - and maybe this is just me - the commercial felt sort of low-budget, like something thrown together in haste. Cheap set. Cheap props. Marketing messages in place of statistics. What is it telling me that's new? I've been hearing that "Nation's fastest 3G network" for some time now. As far as that "talk and surf" feature, I'm assuming that refers to tethering - mostly because Mr. Wilson doesn't elaborate - but last time I heard, AT&T still wasn't offering that for the iPhone.
Why would this commercial lure a potential customer to AT&T or convince an existing customer to stick around? There's no fine print or footnotes about what sort of data these claims are based upon. No statistics. No independent analysis. There is a disclosure about 3G coverage not being available in all areas and some details about service plans, rebates and such.
There's also a URL for a new Web site, called TruthAbout3G.com. But the site is nothing more than a place for cutesy marketing messages and some links to AT&T products and services. No statistics or hard data to be found.
It's fun. But am I supposed to take it serious? From where I sit, Verizon launched a marketing campaign based on factual information (which AT&T didn't dispute) and AT&T counters with... well, this. (see YouTube clip below.) If I'm a consumer (and I am), then this 30-second clip doesn't offer the factual information that I need to be an informed customer.
What's unfortunate is that this doesn't help the company's image - not by any stretch. In fact, you may recall that hole that AT&T was digging itself into. It appears the shovel has been handed from the legal department to the marketing department.
And it appears to be getting deeper.