The marketing world scratches its head every once in a while when they see a blatant waste of money in advertising. No agency is going to turn down money to do what a company wants, even if its a complete waste, but you know they are going to laugh behind your back. This is what happened when last fall AT&T Wireless was bought by Cingular and they spent hundreds of millions on the “raising the bar” campaign where they re-branded ATT wireless to Cingular. Hey, I even made $100 bucks off that ad buy. Then this January they announce that after wiping the name ATT off the phones, sites and people’s minds, they were being bought by AT&T and they would change the name BACK again with their largest campaign EVER. Which was because they are beginning to confuse the fuck out of their customers. We don’t know how much these campaigns spent, but we do know that in 2005 Cingular spent 1.3 Billion and ATT spent 1.6 Billion on advertising. So combine those, add in a little more and Voila! 3 Billion to advertise in 2007.
I think all this renaming stuff is bullshit most of the time, and companies do get suckered into buying a lot of untrackable media under the guise of getting more “brand awareness” but after you’ve done the direct response, pr and local relevance type marketshare aquiring, there’s nothing left but branding to do to go national, global, and rule the world. And that takes a lot of clams. So this name change snafu was a huge waste of money they could have used to pad their executive’s pockets, or possibly return to customers by lowering their rates for a few months. What a crazy marketing plan that might be?
On a personal note, I got my first cell phone in 1999 and it was a Nokia like this one on the left and it was from AT&T Wireless. They had fantastic customer service then, and I bought different faceplate covers for my phone. We thought we were so cool. Next, I bought the smallest phone ever Nokia model in 2002. It was only about 2 inches long and 1 inch wide and you didn’t know if it picked up your voice from your ear and people would put it by their mouth to talk if they were new to using it. Then I traded up in 2004 to this style Nokia which had a flip lid with a 2 thumb texting querty keyboard and my first cameraphone. Very swish, and it impressed people for 2 years. Then in 2006 I chose a Treo 650 (from a gagle of smart cingular phones) for the email and web access and the querty keyboard again. All in all I’ve never switched providers even though they’ve switched on me. I know that’s rare, but I haven’t had serious issues yet, just minor annoyances. But I really would like them to keep a name (any name) for a while.
Update: Apparently AT&T’s yearly media spend is 3.4 BILLION.
Bonus! If you want to know why ATT is evil and sucks ass see my latest post.