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AT&T uses Luke Wilson in a counterattack on Verizon's "Anti-AT&T" commercials

A federal judge handed AT&T a lump of Christmas coal, denying the company's pleas for an injunction to take Verizon's commercials mocking AT&T's network off the air.
There will be no injunction in AT&T's stocking this Christmas

Negative advertising can be a tremendously effective tool, just ask Microsoft.  While people may by now be getting tired of Apple's attack commercials against PCs, for several years they served as an effective tool in building Apple's market share back to relevance and raising the company's brand image. 

However, what's especially lethal is when you can create a negative advertising campaign that's actually true.  That's what Verizon did when it pounced on Apple's partner AT&T over the company's poor 3G coverage.  With AT&T's partner Apple recently admitting that the carrier dropped as many as 30 percent of its calls in some regions, on average, Verizon, the nation's largest carrier, pounced on its second place competitor airing a series of commercials mocking it.

AT&T took a gamble and took Verizon to court over its new "There's a map for that" commercials.  It argued that TV viewers by and large weren't smart enough to distinguish from 3G coverage maps and total coverage maps, despite the Verizon commercial providing textual and verbal indications that the maps were representative of 3G coverage.  Thus AT&T argued the commercials would mislead customers into thinking AT&T had no coverage in much of the country when it really only had no 3G coverage.

The company upped the ante when it asked for an injunction on Verizon's latest "Island of Misfit Toys" commercials, expanding the case in federal court.  However, Verizon refused to back down from its attacks, commenting in court filings "the truth hurts."

Now AT&T's Christmas wish to take its competitor's ads off the air has been met with disappointment.  U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Batten Sr. handed the telecom a lump of coal, denying their request for an injunction, commenting that while Verizon's commercials were "sneaky" they weren't misleading. 

Judge Batten Sr. commented that people might "misunderstand" the commercials, "but that doesn’t mean they’re misleading."  He even had both sides laughing when he elaborated, "Most people who are watching TV are semi-catatonic.  They’re not fully alive."

The loss is no laughing matter for AT&T, though, as it faces a worse hit to its already marred brand image, thanks to the heightened publicity the suit has given the commercials.  Recent brand studies showed that the commercials seemed to be working with Verizon's brand perception rising over the past several weeks, and AT&T's brand image plummeting.

AT&T will have one final chance to try to silence Verizon, at a second hearing on December 16.  However, with Verizon crying that AT&T is trying to silence its right to free speech and AT&T unable to directly challenge the commercials' accuracy, AT&T's hopes of a last-minute Christmas surprise seem to be growing increasingly dim.

In other news, AT&T has finally decided to combat Verizon's commercials directly with a commercial of their own. The company has employed Luke Wilson to jab Verizon on such issues as simultaneous talking/web surfing and the company's lack of “popular smartphones”. You can view the commercial here.

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Verizon lawsuit commercial
By vfighter on 11/18/2009 10:41:22 PM , Rating: 5
I would love to see a commercial from Verizon with a price estimate on the lawyer/court costs of the lawsuit. Then the cost of putting up a tower/repeater. Then say something along the lines of if AT&T only cared about your right to speak as much as they cared about our right not to, you would have better coverage right now. I see en masse defections once Verizon gets the iPhone, in what less than 6 months or so right?

RE: Verizon lawsuit commercial
By cmdrdredd on 11/18/09, Rating: -1
RE: Verizon lawsuit commercial
By vfighter on 11/18/2009 11:28:34 PM , Rating: 3
I am in South Korea, the iPhone is still not available here. But even I can read a map.

RE: Verizon lawsuit commercial
By eddieroolz on 11/19/2009 12:31:46 AM , Rating: 5
Not everyone wants the iPhone, my friend.

RE: Verizon lawsuit commercial
By Bateluer on 11/19/2009 8:18:33 AM , Rating: 2
Err, Verizon has the Moto Droid, a superior phone in all aspects except app count. Also, the Eris/Hero isn't a bad phone either, and Big Red is supposed to be getting several other Android phones in the next few weeks/months. By the time they get the nuetered iPhone, it won't matter.

I will agree, that up until 6 November, Verizon's smartphone choices pretty much sucked though.

RE: Verizon lawsuit commercial
By Jalek on 11/20/2009 1:16:36 AM , Rating: 2
I still don't like Verizon after dealing with their locked phones and VCast garbage for years, but their coverage has always been good.

Maybe a full purchase android type and T-Mobile.. I don't know.. but every month I think about dumping AT&T right about the time I pay the bill.

RE: Verizon lawsuit commercial
By hashish2020 on 11/19/2009 12:41:25 AM , Rating: 2
Considering they are on retainer, I'm gonna go with $0 marginal cost

RE: Verizon lawsuit commercial
By vfighter on 11/19/2009 1:17:27 AM , Rating: 2
Bah...good point...

RE: Verizon lawsuit commercial
By vfighter on 11/19/2009 1:19:54 AM , Rating: 2
How about time and effort spent that could have gone towards improving their network?

RE: Verizon lawsuit commercial
By jabber on 11/19/2009 6:17:10 AM , Rating: 2
Yeah if I was AT&T I'd have had trucks going all over the country installing and upgrading masts like crazy.

If that wasnt enough of a push to invest and improve your network then I dont know what is.

RE: Verizon lawsuit commercial
By mcnabney on 11/19/2009 11:57:32 AM , Rating: 2
It isn't just about adding new antennas to existing towers.

First off, AT&T may not own the towers.
Second, 3G data connection require a far beefier network connection.
Third, and new switches (which cost a god-awful amount of money).
Fourth, and require a different distribution pattern based upon capacity and range (which is caused by the change in frequency for broadband).
Fifth, and require money that AT&T would just rather not spend.

Verizon carefully grew and maintained a large, widespread, and advanced network. And they did it without sacrificing reliability and quality. That cost a lot of money. AT&T spent that money paying huge fees to Apple to acquire and keep an exclusive. Before that it was a huge AT&T wireless merger. And before that was the TDMA screw-up. Verizon has been more conservative and focused on the basics. The Alltel acquisition made sense, but was a huge investment. It could only be done because Alltel was a high quality provider (unlike AT&T wireless for Cingular and Nextel for Sprint).

RE: Verizon lawsuit commercial
By jRaskell on 11/19/2009 11:32:19 AM , Rating: 2
Retainer really only means you get priority access and small stuff is handled without any additional cost. A big lawsuit like this you better believe is costing AT&T far more than their monthly retainer fee.

RE: Verizon lawsuit commercial
By heulenwolf on 11/19/2009 12:33:54 PM , Rating: 2
Neat idea but its not a good move. What about the cost of all the commercials?

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