AT&T drops Verizon 3G lawsuit but bad publicity lives on

The lawsuit over Verizon's "There's a map for that" campaign has been dismissed but the negative publicity for AT&T lives on
Written by Sam Diaz, Inactive on

Not quite 30 days ago, AT&T did one of the worst things it could do when Verizon Wireless launched an advertising campaign that compared the two companies' 3G coverage: it sued.

That suit set off a flurry of blog posts (including a few posted by me) and broadly raised the awareness of an advertising campaign that probably could have been overlooked by time-pressed consumers who were busy gearing up for the holiday season.

Now, less that a month later, the lawsuit has been dismissed, which follows a judge's denial of AT&T's request to have the commercial pulled. In the meantime, Verizon has taken its "There's a map for that" campaign into a number of new commercials, including a new one featuring Santa and his reindeer.

AT&T's biggest mistake was trying to squash the ad on the basis that it was misleading, instead of inaccurate. The company said that consumers were being misled into thinking that those maps represented all of AT&T's coverage, instead of just its 3G coverage. The problem was that the commercial - and the information in it - was not inaccurate. As Verizon said in its response to the suit, "The truth hurts."

This whole issue of AT&T's service has been a public relations nightmare in recent weeks - and it wasn't all just from the commercial. This week, the blogosphere lit up when a Consumer Reports article gave AT&T's overall cell phone voice quality a "poor" rating and suggested that consumers might love the iPhone but should expect to be disappointed with the call quality on the AT&T network.

Instead of paying lawyers to file silly lawsuits that end up being dismissed less than 30 days later, AT&T might have been better off launching its own marketing campaign (No, I don't mean that lame Luke Wilson response) or - better yet - spending some of that lawyer money on beefing up the network. Yes, I realize that AT&T continues to invest in its network - but clearly it's not enough and it's definitely not being done fast enough.

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