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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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RE: That commercial was...
By kd9280 on 11/19/2009 9:21:31 AM , Rating: 2
So basically, AT&T's checklist can be summed up with four words, "We have the iPhone."

RE: That commercial was...
By Motoman on 11/19/2009 11:32:54 AM , Rating: 2
...which is plenty enough negative press for them right there, as far as I'm concerned.

RE: That commercial was...
By mcnabney on 11/19/2009 11:40:14 AM , Rating: 2
Yes, AT&T have built their business model around a bunch of zealots. So far that has worked out for them.

RE: That commercial was...
By dtm4trix on 11/19/2009 2:45:53 PM , Rating: 3
While I have a 1G iPhone, ATT sucks balls and I wish that apple would pull its head out and make phones for other carriers. It would be a much better phone if it wasn't tied to ATT.

RE: That commercial was...
By Alexstarfire on 11/19/2009 5:58:31 PM , Rating: 2
If you have the 1G iPhone then I don't see how AT&T could be bad. AT&T has excellent 2G coverage, as I can attest to with the 3-4 different phones I've used on their network over the past 5 years.

I've always heard the iPhone gets crappy reception, but I've never cared to take my dad's iPhone to test it. I wouldn't want to use a hunk of crap like the iPhone, especially the 1G iPhone. My personal opinion so please don't blast me on that.

RE: That commercial was...
By Jalek on 11/20/2009 12:13:41 AM , Rating: 2
AT&T has the iPod with a crappy phone built in.
Also, rollover minutes, but when you lose signal so often, you usually have extra minutes.

I've had Cingular for years though, and the iPhone's worse than any phone I've used for losing signal. You can be on a call, looking at the full bar strength indication, and watch it lose signal completely and drop the call, then in 20 seconds or so, full signal again, all without moving.

Never had that happen with various Motorola phones on that service.

"What would I do? I'd shut it down and give the money back to the shareholders." -- Michael Dell, after being asked what to do with Apple Computer in 1997

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