Thursday, April 8, 2010

25: speaking of innovation or lack thereof

AT&T is rolling out a rebranding campaign, drawing attention to itself as a foward-thinking lifestyle and innovation company under the theme "Rethink Possible."

The whole effort is being headed by Esther Lee (Senior VP of Brand Marketing and Advertising). This woman is intense. She used to be the Global Chief Creative Officer for Coca-Cola, and before moving to AT&T, she worked as the CEO of Global Brands for North America at Euro RSCG (!!!). Yeah... she's legit.

Apparently, the campaign is stemming from the whole Verizon vs. AT&T 3G fiasco that popped up back in November. You know what I'm talking about...

Verizon busted out with its "Yo AT&T, I'm really happy for you... I'mma let you finish... but we have the best 3G of all time! Of all time!" commercials.*

And then you had AT&T responding with a lawsuit that went nowhere, and Luke Wilson standing around, trying to prove to the world that AT&T rules... (Comparative ads, what up!)

(This is their "Marbles" spot. Marbles. As in, "Verizon has lost its marbles." Oh, ho ho. I see what you did there. So clever, AT&T.)

(Oh, Luke Wilson. You're charming. You really are. But I must say, I prefer your Wes Anderson films immensely.)

In general, shifting away from "telecommunications" to "lifestyle and innovation" is a smooth move. I like this quote from Robert Passikoff, President of New York-based Brand Keys, a consumer & brand loyalty research company: "Selling on price is a pathway to commoditization. The only way to get out of that is to have the brand stand for something meaningful to consumers." (via the New York Times) +2 for staying away from marketing myopia and getting the bigger picture, you know?

However, as a consumer, knowing that this campaign was at least partly sparked by Verizon's little, uh, blitz makes me wonder if this whole rebranding strategy isn't just another "surface" move. I'm hesitant to trust in companies who rebrand as a reaction to competitors. It just seems less purposeful, less guided, less directional.

Not to mention... besides AT&T's U-verse service (which is still slowly being implemented in residential communities... I haven't gotten it yet, but apparently my neighbors down the street have), I can't think of anything particularly innovative that the company does... It all just feels very contrived to me, as in, "We're calling ourselves an innovative company! Look how innovative we are! See? See? Aren't we innovative?!" So... I'm really hoping their rebranding "strategy" doesn't end up being all talk. Good or bad, it'll definitely be interesting to see where this all goes.

Some places worth checking out/keeping an eye on:
Rethink Possible (corporate website)
AT&T trying to convince you that it's innovative -- Successful? Unsuccessful? You be the judge
AT&T research labs - Proving that the company is indeed innovative (if you can get through all the technical jargon and research terminology, that is)

(via Advertising Age)

*Okay, okay. Yes. I know this is so 2009, but secretly I can't get enough of it. Don't judge me.

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