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AT&T is trying to make a name for itself with gay consumers.

The No. 1 long-distance telephone company last week initiated its first direct marketing effort targeting the affluent gay market. In a brochure featuring photos of same-sex couples talking about long-distance communications, AT&T is making a pitch for leadership in brand image among gays, with more efforts expected later this year.

The six-panel brochure, mailed to an undisclosed number of consumers who appeared on subscription lists of gay publications, includes a photo of two men accompanied by the caption: "When David's away on business, we like to stay close. I love to know what he's doing and what's on his mind."

Another photo shows a man and his mother, who's quoted as saying: "Even though Paul lives a coast away, I love knowing how his life is going. His father and I always look forward to his calls."

The mailing was created and coordinated by the marketing and communications consulting company Prime Access, New York, and is said to be a one-time project. It supports AT&T's family of "True" consumer long-distance calling products, including True USA Savings, True Rewards and True Voice.

No additional special incentives or coupons are included.

FCB/Leber Katz Partners, New York, AT&T agency for consumer long-distance advertising didn't participate in the effort, an AT&T spokesman said.

AT&T decided to target gays after research revealed untapped opportunity with the audience, he said, explaining, "The particular market segment is a good one to target because it's composed of affluent, highly educated and very brand loyal consumers."

The direct mailing follows AT&T's first-ever ad in the The Advocate, in an April issue. AT&T was also a sponsor at the First National Gay Expo in Secaucus, N.J., and is rumored to be a sponsor of next month's Gay Games IV & Cultural Festival in New York.

"We've received a lot of positive feedback from constituents of the gay market as a result of our Advocate advertising," the AT&T spokesman said, "and we feel all of this is having a positive effect."

No. 2 MCI Communications Corp. and No 3 Sprint haven't targeted to gays.

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