AT&T TO LAUNCH NEW SHEPHERD ADS

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By Tobi Elkin

AT&T Wireless on Feb. 26 will debut its latest advertising initiative, a program the company calls Customer Advantage. The effort,

AT&T walks with the shepherd again

targeting both consumer and business customers, will flag key benefits of AT&T Wireless' products and services in TV, print and radio advertising created by True North Communications' FCB, San Francisco. Outdoor creative is under consideration.

Ads for the Customer Advantage program constitute the latest phase of AT&T Wireless' "Shepherd" campaign, which debuted last May. The campaign's central image of a cell-phone-toting shepherd has been used to convey the idea that AT&T Wireless services can help people connect to one another no matter where they are. AT&T uses the shepherd in this round of ads to emphasize customer service and support benefits, and rate plan changes, among other things.

Customer Advantage creative is said to add special visual effects to the overarching shepherd theme that convey the passage of time. Creative will focus on "milestone events that impact people's use of wireless [services]," said Phil Jacobus, VP-national advertising, AT&T Wireless. Mr. Jacobus suggests that the ads will highlight life-changing events that often drive people to modify their wireless service, "we're showing them all the ways that this can happen." For example, as a customer's wireless usage patterns change due, say, to a job change or the birth of a baby, AT&T Wireless will make it easier to alter their service. Additional service options and discounts for upgrading to a new wireless handset will also be part of the Customer Advantage push.

AT&T Wireless appears to be sticking with the "Shepherd" campaign, at least for now (AA, Feb. 19). "We're going to continue to invest in the shepherd, it's been a great differentiator for us," Mr. Jacobus said, adding, "If it's working, why change it?" But the Redmond, Wash.-based wireless unit of AT&T Corp. is due to spin off into a separate, publicly traded company by midyear, a move that's likely to spark a new campaign theme.

"Yes, we're going to be a separate company but we're going to be under the AT&T umbrella," Mr. Jacobus said, continuing, "We've had great success with the shepherd, and we're not going to commit categorically, one way or another, if we're going to change it."

The shepherd has helped AT&T Wireless tout national offers such as its PocketNet and DigitalOne Rate services.

Copyright February 2001, Crain Communications Inc.

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