In the supersize :60 running in theaters nationwide, Mr. Arquette appears wearing his familiar spokesman gear-a black 1-800-CALL-ATT sweatshirt with a huge white dial-pad on the front.
Foote, Cone & Belding, New York, created the cinema spot, which also broke on national TV this past weekend.
AT&T spent $55 million last year in measured media on 1-800-CALL-ATT, according to Competitive Media Reporting.
ENTERTAINMENT VALUE PARAMOUNT
AT&T has run in-theater ads infrequently in the past, usually around a bigger entertainment theme, such as during the 1996 Atlanta Olympics to promote its sponsorship.
"If you're going to do cinema advertising, it has to be as entertaining as cinema ads," said Stephen Graham, VP-marketing communications worldwide for AT&T. "If you try to take a traditional TV spot and hard-sell the product in the theater, it's not going to work. It's got to be a relevant product and service."
The primary target for 1-800-CALL-ATT is teens and young adults, a group that also happens to be heavy moviegoers. AT&T has used the young and hip Mr. Arquette as its 1-800-CALL-ATT spokesman for about eight months in a campaign that has generated favorable results for the long-distance giant.
Like the actor, the shirt he wears also has become somewhat of a cult favorite.
Peter DePasquale, senior VP-group managing director at FCB, said he got the idea for the newest spot while roaming around Manhattan one day wearing one of the limited-edition shirts. (Only a few were made up to hand out inside AT&T.)
Mr. DePasquale said he got a few looks and a comment on the A train, then a few more on the No. 4 train. By the time he got to Rockefeller Center, he was besieged with requests about where to get the shirt. He also was being serenaded in the same singsongy voice Mr. Arquette uses to say, "C-A-L-L-A-T-T."
Mr. DePasquale had to close his jacket to stop the attention he was getting. But an idea was born, and his creative team came up with the tongue-in-cheek fashion show idea.
'REAL CULTURAL RELEVANCE'
AT&T is using both Screenvision Cinema Network and National Cinema Network to distribute the commercial in theaters. The spots will run on the big screen for about a month; AT&T could get an added boost with good reviews and interest in Mr. Arquette in "Never Been Kissed" which opened last weekend.
"David Arquette just has real cultural relevance to this group," Mr. Graham