A note on bullying.

I have never been a fan of bullies. Of course most people aren’t too keen on bullies either. Still advertisers seem to resort to bulling the competition rather than countering it.

The recent, eh maybe not so recent, struggle between Verizon and AT&T is a perfect example. To me, Verizon’s campaign comes off as poking fun and highlighting the product, AT&T’s just seems mean. Network issues non-withstanding (I tackle that a little lower) I’ve been thinking about why I have such a different reaction to the commercials. The first is simple Verizon highlights their brand while they poke fun with the “we have an map for that” tag. It’s pointing out their 3G coverage area which is larger, because their entire network is 3G.

AT&T gets pissed and fire back, gunning for the jugular of Verizon.

AT&T highlights not what they have, but what Verizon lacks. The “most popular smartphones” does not counter more 3G coverage. AT&T is comparing an apple to a produce isle. Plus they counter a poke with an overhand right. The spots feel mean spirited and dumbed down. No offense to BBDO but they appear to have been outsmarted by McCann.

So what would I have done? This is where the service part comes in. Had I ben BBDO I would have told AT&T to update their infrastructure and strengthen their network. Show real improvement with the money they have spent on advertising. I’m sure those millions would have helped create a more stable network at in least New York. After the improvements were made fire back. “Look at what we do for our customers”, “Don’t you want a network that cares about the quality of service provided?” Have kiosks where people can try out the improved service. Notice the download speeds, the voice clarity, the extremely low drop rates.

Build a campaign around something tangible, not Luke Wilson throwing postcards down on a big map of America.

- Jeff