AT&T debuts new campaign for back-to-school

AT&T has tapped musician Mary J. Blige for a new multichannel effort to push phones for back-to-school. The new campaign, called “Shedding styles,” features the artist changing into various outfits, yet finding a phone to match each. The singer claims that her style is one of a kind, then AT&T declares that it offers “a phone for every style.”

The idea is to show consumers the breadth of new devices, said Vance Overbey, executive director of advertising at AT&T. “The idea of the commercial is also to equate getting a cool new phone with AT&T,” he added.

“We did a lot of research working with younger people trying to figure out how cell phones fit into their lives,” said James Fox, EVP, director of planning at BBDO North America, AT&T’s agency of record that worked on the campaign. “We learned that cell phones are very important to this audience. They said that they could not live without their cell phone for a month. In addition, we learned that phones are now seen as an expression of your personal style.”

The ad prominently features three new AT&T phones that are designed for “quick messaging.” These include the Motorola Karma, LG Neon and LG Xenon. “Quick-messaging devices are very popular among our demographic,” said Overbey. “We send about a billion text messages a day through our network.”

The TV component of the campaign launched on July 20, and the campaign also includes online video, banner ads, rich media display, search, radio and PR. Along with BBDO New York, AT&T worked with sister Omnicom agency Atmosphere for the online component. Fleishman-Hillard handles the PR, while Mediaedge is responsible for media buying and planning. The PR effort includes a behind the scenes interview with Blige on Access Hollywood, in which she talks about making the commercial.

The ad’s creative features Blige’s new single “The One.” The campaign targets 18- to 34-year-olds, which is why Mary J. Blige was chosen as a spokesperson. “We felt that she transcended different age groups, but we knew that she was popular with that age group,” said Overbey. “And she is known for being an individual with a strong sense of self.”

The campaign will run for 10 weeks, through the back-to-school season. This is AT&T’s second biggest selling season, coming in behind only the December holidays.

“Back to school is a big time for style and it is a chance to arm yourself with products and brands that let you reflect who you are,” said Overbey. “And there is nothing that reflects who a person is these days than their wireless device.”

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