The creative, the first from AT&T's lead creative shop, Omnicom Group's BBDO Worldwide, is centered on a mash-up of city names. A reporter, an architect, a mom and others each appear in one of six new spots chatting on a cellphone and are taken through a series of situations in which each comes up with a made-up word consisting of parts of the names of a number of cities.
In a print ad echoing the TV spots, a New Yorker who does business in San Francisco and has family in South Dakota might "need a network that works where you live," which according to the ad is called "New Sanfrakota."
(Oddly, after each spot makes its visual and verbal coverage claims, a disclaimer appears: "Coverage not available in all areas.")
"The new initiatives are designed to highlight how AT&T helps connect people to their worlds wherever they live and work," Randall Stephenson, AT&T chairman-CEO, said in a news release. "We want to ensure this message is reflected in our brand."
Wes Anderson, whose films include "The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou," directed the commercials.
Other elements include outdoor, print and online elements. For the latter, AT&T later this month launches its "Digital World" website, where visitors can create personal digital "personality" using color modules others may view. AT&T also has set up an online store where visitors can create their own personal city mash-up name and purchase T-shirts and bumper stickers with the name on it.
A mash-up trend
The concept of mashing up names in advertising has popped up in other campaigns in recent years, starting with Virgin Mobile's Chrismahanukwanzakah holiday campaign. Most recently, Godfrey Q, a San Francisco agency, executed a campaign for tech company Riverbed where skylines of different cities were morphed and new names given, such as "New Yorkyo" (for New York and Tokyo)
AT&T was the nation's No. 2 marketer last year, with spending of $3.34 billion, according to Advertising Age's Data Center. The bulk of that outlay is likely to be spent behind the new effort.