LUCENT TO STUDY CONSUMER REACTION TO PHONE BRAND

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Lucent Technologies, spun off from AT&T a year ago, will run a test in six cities starting late this summer to see how its brand of phones connects with consumers.

Lucent must stop marketing AT&T-brand phones in the year 2000. The upcoming test will help determine how the nation's

No. 1 marketer of consumer phones and answering machines, makes the transition to its new name.

In three unannounced cities, consumers will see only the Lucent brand in all the company's marketing communications, said Dave Boyce, VP-public relations for Lucent's consumer products division. The name will appear in Lucent's own ads, co-op ads with retailers and, presumably, on packaging. Mr. Boyce wouldn't discuss details.

COMPARING RESULTS

Brand awareness and sell-through rates will be compared with those in three control cities where products and ads will continue to be co-branded Lucent and AT&T.

"We'd like to test and get a better qualitative and quantitative handle on just what it's going to take in terms of approach and resources to establish a standalone brand," Mr. Boyce said.

The company has been willing to invest in making a name for itself: Lucent last year spent $53.6 million on a corporate branding campaign from McCann-Erickson Worldwide, New York, according to Competitive Media Reporting. More than half the money went to TV.

That's an astounding investment for what is mostly a business-to-business marketer. Lucent gets the bulk of its $23 billion in revenue from selling communications equipment to phone companies and other business customers.

Though its corporate ads recently have begun to feature consumer phones, Lucent's $1.2 billion consumer division hasn't to date done significant advertising. But that will change as Lucent starts to make the name transition.

Lucent in January awarded its consumer account to McCann. N.W. Ayer & Partners, New York, had handled the consumer line under AT&T.

LUCENT BRAND NOW ON PRODUCTS

The marketer has put only the Lucent mark on all phones made since January. But packaging, co-op ads and Lucent's limited consumer ads are co-branded with both AT&T and Lucent.

Lucent will consider abandoning the prized AT&T brand in favor of its own name well before its rights to its old name expire.

"If we can do it earlier than the year 2000, I think we will," Mr. Boyce said. "We want to test the waters, see if it's possible, see what resources we would need."

The name shift is reminiscent of how Black & Decker Corp. phased in its name on General Electric Co.'s popular line of irons and toasters in the 1980s after buying GE's small-appliance business. One difference: Lucent is creating its name from scratch.

"The AT&T brand is one of the most powerful in the world," Mr. Boyce said. "[But] clearly we need to move to our standalone brand at some point. We want to be smart about this transition."

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