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.
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."
Christmas wish to take its competitor's ads off the air has been met
with disappointment. U.S. District Court Judge Timothy Batten
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
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.
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.