AT&T Strikes Back at Verizon With Its Own Comparison Campaign

Luke Wilson TV Spot Ranks Providers Side-by-Side

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SAN FRANCISCO ( -- AT&T launched a new ad campaign that hits back at Verizon Wireless, aiming to put some polish back in the reputation of its network coverage.

The TV spot aired for the first time last night, hours after a federal judge denied AT&T's request for a temporary restraining order to force Verizon to yank its "There's a map for that" ads showing AT&T's lesser 3G coverage. AT&T's spot features big-screen actor Luke Wilson, who invites consumers to make comparisons between AT&T and Verizon Wireless, checking off a list of attributes off a board, such as "nation's fastest 3G network," before declaring AT&T the winner in all the comparisons.

Well, almost all: In the last match-up, the attribute is "name that starts with the letter 'V.'" As Mr. Wilson attempts to stick the magnet in Verizon's column, it doesn't stick.

"It shows AT&T is not going to sit back and take it," said Roger Entner, senior VP at Nielsen. "It's the realization that they can't let Verizon Wireless have the only voice in this play. And it shows a little humor."

Asked whether the ads are a bit bland compared to Verizon's more rounded and fancy campaigns, such its latest spot in which the iPhone is banished to the island of broken and unwanted toys because of AT&T's poor 3G coverage, Mr. Entner noted that AT&T assembled its campaign in haste. AT&T is the iPhone's exclusive carrier.

"Verizon has had months to prepare for the commercials, AT&T had weeks. I view this as a stopgap measure," Mr. Entner said. "AT&T is refuting the things Verizon is saying and it's highlighting its strengths. It's inevitable there will be more to come. Verizon will not stop running those ads."

AT&T's campaign is also running in newspapers such as The Wall Street Journal, and features the comparison table seen in the TV ad, though Mr. Wilson is absent in the print iteration.

An AT&T spokeswoman declined to comment on the ads and would not say whether more of the same are in the pipeline. AT&T's agency is BBDO Worldwide, New York.

AT&T sued Verizon Wireless earlier this month, contending that Verizon's campaign comparing Verizon's 3G coverage and its own are misleading consumers into thinking AT&T does not offer services in large parts of the country.

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