Wendy Clark, VP-advertising, AT&T

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AT&T's advertising team hasn't had a dull moment in the past year. Led by Wendy Clark, VP-advertising, the group launched the largest rebranding effort in the company's history after its merger last year with SBC. While tracking the successes of that campaign, the team is also preparing for a planned merger with BellSouth, a deal that would create the biggest communications company in the world.

At the same time, Clark is overseeing the nuts and bolts of all advertising, branding and sponsorships for AT&T's business units. "We have a very functional and real responsibility to drive the business," she said. "The day-to-day activity of the business is obviously incredibly important and ultimately what allows the acquisitions to happen."

That day-to-day business had to continue uninterrupted while the rebranding of the new AT&T was under way—an effort that involved updating everything from 50,000 company vehicles to more than 6,000 company buildings, Clark said. "There's no question it's an exercise in scale and there's some complexity to it," she said.

AT&T communicated the messaging for the rebranding—which has the tagline "Your world. Delivered."—on several levels, Clark said. The simplest was getting the word out that SBC and AT&T had come together to create the new AT&T. Next, she said, the goal was to reassure customers that there was a reason for—and a benefit to—the merger.

To accomplish those objectives, AT&T used broad-reaching media, such as TV, print ads and online banner ads, Clark said, but also more targeted media, including direct mail, to reach specific niches.

Clark said AT&T has been especially pleased with the response to its Internet marketing efforts and has stepped up its spending on the medium accordingly. "The Internet can be at once broad and targeted," she said. "We can lay down a broad plan of communication but then go in on very specific sites that are geotargeted and get the customers that we want to talk to for a given niche. That provides us incredible flexibility."

Clark has drawn on her experience—she ran ad agency GSD&M's account service division before joining SBC—to unite the company's 13 ad agencies into an integrated agency support system, dubbed "Team AT&T." It's been a massive effort over the past two years, but the result is that the company's various agencies, whether they're working on b-to-b, sports or diversity marketing, coordinate their strategies and creative.

Her efforts have paid off: Unaided brand awareness for the new AT&T has almost tripled, unaided advertising awareness has almost quadrupled and preference for the brand across discrete target market audiences has more than tripled, Clark said. —M.E.M.

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