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AT&T’s new multichannel work targets young, on-the-go crowd

Wireless phone company AT&T Inc. is ringing up a new brand advertising campaign to position itself as mobility-centric.

The new campaign follows initiatives from the past few months, since AT&T’s merger with BellSouth and the joint venture with Apple for the iPhone, to move the brand in a mobile-focused direction. On September 11, AT&T debuted the “Your Seamless World” corporate ad campaign to speak to consumers with on-the-go lifestyles.

“This is a continuation of steps that we have been taking since the merger with Bell South, to build the image of AT&T as a mobile brand,” said Troy Ruhanen, executive vice president and managing director at BBDO North America, the communication company’s agency.

“Our belief is that individuals aren’t tied to one place and we have a much more mobile life than we’ve had in the past,” Ruhanen continued. “AT&T helps provide a seamless mobility for this mobile lifestyle.”

AT&T acquired the BellSouth Corp. in the last week of 2006, in a transaction that consolidated ownership and management of leading wireless carrier Cingular Wireless (a brand that is now becoming AT&T) and Internet Yellow Pages YellowPages.com.

Shortly after the merger, in the second week of this year, computer firm Apple announced a partnership with AT&T’s wireless division, who is currently the exclusive service provider for Apple’s iPhone, the mobile device that combines the mobile phone, iPod and camera with the wireless Internet in a touchtone handset.

Since the merger the AT&T brand has been undergoing a major revamp to appeal to a younger audience. The Apple brand, and specifically the iPhone product, is synonymous with the tech savvy early adopters and AT&T aims to appeal to this audience.

The last time that AT&T rebranded was in 2005, after the firm was acquired by SBC Communications. The campaign, titled “Your world. Delivered,” shifted the focus from telecommunications to digital services.

The new ads have shifted the company’s image back towards the wireless angle and are designed to appeal to a younger audience associated with the wireless lifestyle. AT&T hired film director Wes Anderson, known for “Rushmore,” “The Royal Tenenbaums” and “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.” Anderson will oversee six new TV spots for AT&T called “College Kid,” “Reporter,” “Mom,” “Architect,” “Actor” and “Businessman.” The campaign will also include online, print and outdoor advertising.

An online extension of the campaign, the AT&T Souvenir Store, will launch in October, where visitors can enter the cities and states with which they have personal connections to create a name that identifies those locations as a group. For example, a user that enters New York, San Francisco and South Dakota may become “New Sanfrakota.” Visitors can also personalize “Your Seamless World” merchandise, such as t-shirts and bumper stickers.

On September 24, AT&T will launch another campaign and Web site called “Digital World” at www.att.comdigitalworld to target the youth demographic that may not have ever had a cell phone.

“We are not out there to replace MySpace or anything like that, but it is our way to get a youth audience to engage with the brand,” Ruhanen added. “Today more than ever young people are using the Internet to profile themselves and creativity is important to this generation.”

Visitors to the site will be able to create a digital profile by using color. These profiles can be exported as digital files for use in online community pages such as MySpace or Facebook. Users can sign up to receive incentive coupons and details about AT&T products.

To entice the youth-focused market to join yet another social network, AT&T is employing the help of celebrities, including NFL football stars Vince Young of the Tennessee Titans and LaDainian Tomlinson of the San Diego Charger’s from the sports realm, as well as actress Christine Cavalier and “American Idol” star Elliott Yamin. The stars will have profile pages, meant to encourage young consumers to create their own profile pages. Unlike social networks, the site does not allow for interaction between pages like adding friends or posting comments.

To reinforce the brand change, AT&T is changing its primary color to orange, reminiscent of the Cingular brand, throughout its signage, Web site and ads. Blue will remain the color of the corporate logo. Orange is also the main color for European mobile phone company Orange.

In addition to the new campaign, AT&T has been launching Experience Stores over the past year. These stores have several hands-on kiosks that permit customers to try out the company’s wireless and wired technology. It plans to have more than a dozen of its largest AT&T Experience Stores and hundreds of smaller Experience Stores open across the country by the end of the year.

AT&T will immediately start to implement a carefully planned integration process to converge the AT&T, BellSouth, and Cingular wireless and wireline Internet Protocol (IP) networks, combine product portfolios and integrate customer-care capabilities.

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