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Thursday, March 28, 2013

Hey, AT&T, Less Would Be More!

I detest the AT&T spots with actor Beck Bennett. He’s the guy who’s sitting with kids doing primary research, asking simple questions like, “What’s better, fast or slow?” 

We get the point, AT&T. You claim to have faster service. I find the kids in these commercials to be so annoying and the basic premise so tired that I literally change channels each time one of them comes on. Additionally, the kids are so overly rehearsed that they lack any credibility. The whole point of putting kids in commercials is so the audience can "ooh and aah" over their simple utterances, cute faces and charming personalities. No such conditions exist in these ads.

I find the little girl who prattles on about "more of less" to be particularly annoying. She's followed closely in my mind by the girl in another spot who raises her hand to get the man's permission to speak and he mistakenly "high fives" her. She breaks character, mumbles to him that she was trying to speak and then looks off stage to the film crew or director or her agent, or whomever. 

These ads remind me of the Wendy's ads that ran a generation ago featuring the actress Clara Peller who exclaimed, "Where's the beef?" The campaign got a lot of publicity, gained a lot of awareness for the Wendy's brand that until that point was spotty at best in some parts of the country. Late night TV and even the President of the United States did parodies of the tag line. No question about it, the ads had America talking. However, after you asked, "Where's the beef?" you needed to ask "Where's the Wendy's?"

The Wendy's restaurant locations, speed of service, pricing and limited menu offerings and hours of operation were so poor that customers weren't returning in droves as had been hoped. In fact, as someone who worked on the Wendy's account a decade later, I saw firsthand that sales didn't justify the ad dollars that were spent on the campaign. Despite all the publicity that was generated, both McDonald's or Burger King (then #1 and #2 in the fast food category as it was called in those days) continued to see steady sales growth. Wendy's on the other hand never made progress in its market position.

Back to AT&T . . . I find this campaign so insipid that it has changed my view of the AT&T brand from one of a polished major player in the industry to one that has ridden it's one trick pony into the ground.