New Year's Blitz Includes TV Spots Across Three Times Square Shows

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SAN FRANCISCO ( -- The iconic AT&T brand gets an estimated $500 million-plus New Year’s Eve makeover as the newly merged SBC and AT&T breaks its first marketing campaign.
AT&T's new campaign aims to "spread the word" about the merged giant's capability with spots set against the music of Oasis.

The strategy is to present AT&T as the world’s most complete and secure network. Initial spots will launch on Dick Clark’s “New Year’s Rockin’ Eve,” Fox’s “New Year's Eve With Regis Philbin” and ESPN’s New Year’s Eve broadcasts. Billboards in New York’s Times Square will feature a bubbling Champagne bottle, as well as a billboard above the ball that drops at midnight.

Super Bowl
“These are two great companies with great strength coming together,” said Roy Spence, president of GSD&M, the agency, along with Rodgers Townsend of St. Louis, for the new AT&T.

The spots, set to run on more than 30 cable networks and in key college bowl games and National Football League playoff games, explain how the merged company is taking up the important characteristics of each partner: AT&T’s innovation and SBC’s local touch. Executions will eventually run on the Super Bowl pre-game show and during the Winter Olympics, executives involved in the advertising said. Print is slated for more than 50 magazines, and national newspaper ads will run in The New York Times, USA Today and The Wall Street Journal. Local media buys will include 100 daily newspapers and more than 1,000 out-of-home executions, as well as online.

Wide target
The campaign is targeted at current and potential customers, employees and investors and carries the tagline “Your world. Delivered.” The theme is visually echoed through some of the various ads; for instance, in a billboard with the headline is “Blogging delivered,” the letter “o” is replaced by the photo of the Earth. The song “All Around the World” by British rock band Oasis further enhances the tagline.

SBC’s $16 billion acquisition of AT&T received final state and federal regulatory approvals in late November.

Some brand experts believe the once highly regarded AT&T brand became muddled in recent years as it acquired and sold off parts of its business. Strategic branding consultant Alan Siegel, chairman-CEO of Siegel & Gale, said the AT&T brand has “become very confused” and “lost its character and its reputation has suffered.”

Not negative
GSD&M's Mr. Spence said, however, extensive consumer research found reaction to the AT&T brand “wasn’t negative -- it just needed to be revitalized.” Chuck Brymer, chairman-CEO of Interbrand, agreed, calling the AT&T brand a “national icon.” The key, he said, “is to communicate a newfound relevance to the brand.”

A number of telecom experts see challenges ahead for the merged companies, particularly in relation to wireless services. Last year, Cingular Wireless, 60% owned by SBC, acquired AT&T Wireless and spent about $500 million, almost the same as this new effort, to eliminate the AT&T Wireless brand. Bell South owns the remaining 40% of the Cingular Wireless.

Telecom analyst Lisa Pierce, VP at Forrester, described the SBC acquisition of AT&T as “the little fish that swallowed the whale.” She expects the new AT&T will launch a new AT&T Wireless service as a mobile virtual network operator and predicted the dissolution of Cingular Wireless could come as soon as 2007.

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