War? Spot May Be More Relevant Than Telecom Planned

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NEW YORK ( -- With a war against Iraq looming, AT&T Corp. today unveils a new advertising campaign
Perhaps more relevant than AT&T planned.
stressing the need to talk about controversial issues -- using AT&T phone services, of course.

12 states
The push starts today with a series of 18 TV spots airing in 12 states. Each spot, created by WPP Group's Y&R Advertising, New York, was customized to flag specific offerings such as local and long-distance service, unlimited long distance, local service and other products that are available in each state.

The provocative multimedia campaign, coming as U.S. and its allies prepare for war later this week, may be even more relevant than AT&T could have wished for.

One spot screams "War?" across the screen with flames in the backgrounded. The ad flashes other emotional issues at the viewer, such as "Gun Control," "Affirmative Action" and "Cloning," before the tagline, "Talk is Good."

Frustrated consumers
In an interview with, Cathy Constable, vice president of marketing services for AT&T Consumer, said research conducted over the last six months showed that consumers are frustrated by technology and confused by the proliferation of pricing plans in the market. "They want to talk about the things that are important in their lives and they don't want to be sold to," she said.

Ms. Constable also sought to dispel reports that AT&T is unhappy with its ad agency, Y&R. "I have no intention of making any changes," she said.

Ad spending not disclosed
Ms. Constable would not disclose how much was spent on the "Talk is good" campaign, but AT&T Consumer spent $350 million in measured media in the U.S. in 2002, according to Taylor Nelson Sofres' CMR.

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