AT&T pursues teens for 1st time in ads promoting collect calls

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AT&T Corp. this week makes a renewed and more aggressive play in the 1-800 collect-calling market with a campaign aimed for the first time at a teen audience.

The 1-800-CALL-ATT Collect TV campaign created by Foote, Cone & Belding, New York, features up-and-coming Generation X actor David Arquette, who starred in this summer's hit movie "Scream 2."

Actor Paul Reiser will continue as AT&T corporate spokesman.

NEW SET OF CUSTOMERS

"We are targeting a new set of customers for this. This is our first time going to teens," said Howard McNally, VP-transaction services. "We're reinvesting in a product that has performed well for us."

The campaign is the first new work from the head of the AT&T creative team at FCB, Exec VP-Deputy Creative Director Steve Baer, who moved to the agency from Wells BDDP when it folded earlier this year.

The collect-calling category traditionally has been a competitive ad market because users of the service may or may not have a relationship with a particular phone company.

Spending on the new campaign was not disclosed; however, AT&T has spent less than $7 million through May on 1-800-CALL-ATT, according to Competitive Media Reporting. It backed the service with $41 million in measured media in 1997 and $36 million in 1996.

MCI LEADS CATEGORY SPENDING

MCI Communications Corp., the No. 2 long-distance carrier, has led spending in the collect-calling category by a wide margin.

The company has spent $55 million through May on its 1-800-COLLECT, according to CMR. MCI also spent heavily before that, with $150 million in 1997 and $69 million in 1996.

No. 3 Sprint Corp. invested far less on its 1-800-ONE-DIME, introduced last fall. It spent $600,000 last year and an undisclosed amount since May.

Copyright August 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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