'&' Moves to the Front of AT&T Campaign

AT&T began a $200 million branding program last week featuring short-form DRTV and using a ubiquitous ampersand to represent how the company offers more than just long-distance service.

The effort also features mass print advertising. In the future, AT&T will incorporate the new branding into its direct mail as well.

The ampersand or “&” symbol aims to represent that AT&T always has one more thing to offer, said Kevin Crull, senior vice president of marketing at AT&T. Along with long distance, it offers local and international telephone, wireless and Internet services.

Young & Rubicam and its Wunderman business unit developed creative on the program.

Awareness of AT&T's full bundle of services is below 15 percent nationally, Crull said. He did not disclose sales goals for the campaign but said AT&T looked to raise that awareness level.

“We have a full suite of products,” he said. “Yet consumer awareness is limited to long distance.”

The first campaign in the DRTV part of the program, dubbed the “Faces” spot, debuted last week on the NBC show “Fear Factor.” The 30-second version of the spot will continue to air on prime-time slots on the major networks while a 60-second version will run mainly on cable.

The spots urge consumers to call AT&T's 1-800-ATT-4ALL inbound hotline. The number has been in use for a few years and was an element AT&T retained from previous campaigns, Crull said.

The company has used DRTV intermittently in the past but its consistent DM vehicle always has been mail, either through bill inserts or postcards, and its network of 35 million customers.

DRTV's problem, Crull said, is that results can be hard to measure because it has elements of both mass advertising and direct response. AT&T evaluates all advertising spending on a cost-per-sale basis, and such calculations can be difficult with DRTV, he said.

“When you do mass advertising, whether television or print, being able to directly attribute the lift you get is more art than science,” Crull said. “The tried-and-true channels are the ones we moved to.”

However, new analytical models make determining results from DRTV campaigns more precise, Crull said. That motivated AT&T to return to DRTV.

Print ads, also featuring the 1-800-ATT-4ALL call to action, will appear in major metro newspapers, including The New York Times, as well as popular newsweeklies.

A separate business-to-business campaign, launched along with the consumer “&” campaign, features the tagline “Can Your Network Do This?” It features print ads and DRTV but uses the AT&T Web site exclusively as its call to action.

The “Faces” spot features images of people's faces spliced together digitally in a kind of split-screen effect. The band Primal Scream provides the soundtrack with its song “Come Together,” and several voices layered on top of each other can be heard singing along.

Halfway through the spot, an image of an ampersand appears, sharing space with the images of faces. Text then flashes on the screen — “Local & Long Distance,” and an announcer says, “The many ways people communicate are coming together for you.”

Future installments will retain that “organic” theme in which a human element is stressed, said Ann Hayden, executive creative director at Y&R and Wunderman. The spot has both emotional and “hard” appeals in that it stresses the varied services AT&T offers, she said. Future spots also will focus on specific AT&T services paired together.

Simple icons are becoming part of the marketing language. For example, HP has incorporated the “plus” or “+” symbol into its advertising.

“The culture is becoming as visual as it is verbal,” Hayden said. “Visual thinking is becoming a big part of our lives.”

The ampersand was a natural for AT&T because it long has been integral to the company's name and brand, Hayden said.

During the creative development phase, Crull said, a photographer was sent down New York's Fifth Avenue to count the number of ampersands visible on the street and returned with more than 100 examples.

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