AT&T puts $35 mil behind Digital One Rate service

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AT&T Corp., jockeying to make a comeback as the sole telecommunications provider in homes and offices, is putting an aggressive $35 million campaign behind its new one-rate digital phone service.

A key feature to the new AT&T Digital One Rate offering is an extended-life Nokia phone, one of the first to allow the phone to stay powered up to two weeks.

"This is what people have been waiting for," said an AT&T spokesman. "Now people will be keeping their phone on, giving out the number and in a great number of cases that phone will be the primary communications device. It will be a major change in the way people think and behave."

NO EXTRA CHARGES

The new service, charged at a flat rate that ranges from 11 cents to 15 cents a minute, allows calling in all 50 states and doesn't charge extra for roaming or long distance for either incoming or outgoing calls. Flat-rate plans start at $89.99 a month for 600 minutes of airtime and increase incrementally depending on the number of minutes purchased.

"For AT&T, it's a way to get into the home again" as an exclusive telecommunications provider, said Greg Sieck, senior VP-group management supervisor on AT&T Wireless at agency Foote, Cone & Belding, San Francisco.

In a TV, radio and print campaign, AT&T declares as "history" the confusion over billing practices and other financial obstacles faced by wireless customers or potential users. The campaign is the first major work from FCB, which landed the account in November.

IN 50 MARKETS

Print ads broke late last month in The Wall Street Journal and USA Today, and in dailies in 50 markets. TV spots will air in news and prime-time programming in 50 markets.

Radio spots will air on 400 stations nationwide. The Digital One Rate service will be marketed in all major U.S. cities except Los Angeles and San Francisco.

In the 30-second TV spot, a man on a remote cliff overlooking a bay calls his wife, who answers on a personal communication services phone at home. She hands the phone to a baby in a high chair, who then pushes the phone around the tray.

Voice-over--by Andy Berlin, chairman of Berlin, Cameron & Partners, New York--notes that at 11 cents a minute the rate is "so low, it can make your wireless phone your only phone."

Two additional :30s will follow to illustrate how using the phone can make life easier.

Initially the effort will target heavy PCS users, such as frequent business travelers. AT&T also is developing a plan to target contractors, real estate agents and other small office and home office markets.

Copyright May 1998, Crain Communications Inc.

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