Integrated Marketing Success Stories: AT&T

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Following its acquisition by SBC Communications last November, AT&T launched the most aggressive campaign in its more than 120-year history to introduce the new brand to consumer, business and government audiences.

The new AT&T was introduced with a redesigned corporate logo on Nov. 21, the first full day of business following the close of the acquisition. Prior to the merger, SBC announced the new company would operate under the AT&T name.

"Right away, we had to communicate that these two companies had come together and formed one company, and that the name of the company is AT&T," said Wendy Clark, VP-advertising at AT&T. "We had some work to do repositioning the company. We had to reassure our existing customers that everything they liked about the old companies would remain."

AT&T also had to find out what customers and prospective customers wanted from the newly merged company.

To do so, it conducted a qualitative research study with 2,000 customers and prospects, half of whom were consumers and half of which were businesses. It also conducted quantitative research with more than 15,000 customers and prospects to test positioning and creative executions. D/R Added Value, Los Angeles, handled the qualitative research; Interbrand, New York, handled the quantitative end.

"We wanted to measure brand drivers for the ideal communications company," Clark said.

One surprising finding from the quantitative study was an 85% overlap on brand drivers as ranked by consumers and business customers. "It was astounding to find such a strong correlation between b-to-c and b-to-b customers," Clark said.

Overall, AT&T found that the key brand drivers for the ideal communications company were innovation, fairness and promises kept.

"These were the three pillars around which we built the campaign," Clark said.

The new tagline--"Your World. Delivered"--was designed to show how the new AT&T provides meaningful innovation that affects people's lives and businesses, as well as delivering on its promises, she added.

GSD&M, Austin, Texas, and Rodgers Townsend, St. Louis, created the ad campaign. The international effort included TV, print, online, outdoor, events and sponsorships, and kicked off with a TV spot Dec. 31 during a live telecast of "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve 2006."

The TV spot, called "Eclipse," showed images of the Earth juxtaposed with shots of people around the world communicating, while an eclipse formed the logo of the new AT&T. The first ad, as well as additional executions, featured the hit song, "All Around the World," by British band Oasis.

AT&T also had a significant presence in Times Square on New Year's Eve, including an electronic billboard on the Reuters building and a fixed placement on One Times Square, the building from which the ball drops during the New Year's countdown and is viewed by millions of people around the world.

"We took a very robust approach with the media plan, using a full array of broadcast, online, print, outdoor and some new and unexpected elements," Clark said.

On Jan. 9, AT&T launched a massive online campaign, with home page takeovers on such major sites as Reuters, AOL, Yahoo! and ESPN. AT&T estimates the campaign was viewed by half the Internet audience that day.

The company aired additional TV spots, including "Spread the Word," a brand campaign showing the different ways people around the world communicate, and two regional spots, "Street by Street" and "Behind the Wheel," which aired in the 13-state area served by the former SBC Communications.

Print ads ran in Business Week, CIO, Forbes, Fortune, Fortune Small Business and many vertical publications.

AT&T also launched a targeted campaign for the enterprise audience, focusing on its Dynamic Networking services. It used TV, print and online, featuring CIOs and IT decision-makers in the ads.

Small business was another important target audience, Clark said. "It's important to recognize that small-business customers are different from residential customers. They have different needs," she said.

AT&T used TV, print, radio and online to target the small-business sector. The company also used sponsorships to leverage major events this year, including the Winter Olympics and soccer's World Cup. As the official telecommunications services provider for the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic teams, AT&T provided technology for NBC's broadcast of the Winter Games, as well as other telecommunications services for the event.

For the World Cup, AT&T formed a relationship with Univision to be its broadcast sponsor.

It also sponsored the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic during the college bowl series and the AT&T Pebble Beach National Pro-Am on the PGA Tour.

So far, the integrated campaign is proving to be a success. Unaided advertising awareness has increased fourfold since Jan. 1, and unaided brand awareness has increased threefold, Clark said.

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