Some of the major stories throughout the past year – whether about politics, business, sports, entertainment or otherwise – share a similar theme: all have been impacted significantly by the power of social media.
Advertising Age is reporting that AT&T is “undertaking an ambitious rebranding effort under the banner of “Rethink Possible” to reposition itself as a “lifestyle company”. In other words, AT&T is implicitly declaring that it is losing the marketing positioning battle in the minds of consumers and wants to try something else to retain and gain customers.
Similarly, last month, Comcast decided to rebrand itself “Xfinity”. (“Simply put, XFINITY is about offering our customers more — more HD, more speed, more choice and more control over their services…”) Or, alternately simply put, Comcast is feeling the pinch of Verizon Fios’ competition and wants to try something else to retain and gain customers.
Interestingly, in both situations a company who has faltered in delivering upon the promise of its stated brand position decides to fix the problem by rebranding itself to a new position instead of improving upon its original promise. And just as interestingly, in both situations, the faltering company is being aggresively challenged in the marketplace by a company who dedicates more resources and commitment to delivering its brand promise better and better – and correspondingly communicating its success.
It doesn’t take a marketing genius to determine the better strategy for companies to mimic – especially in this age when consumers communicate with each other faster and more effectively than any one company can do on its own. Continue to invest in your brand promise – improve your product, improve your service, improve your delivery – and then your marketing communication efforts have legitimacy. On the other hand, no matter how many times you rebrand, if you don’t have the commitment to invest in your brand promise (whatever that may be), you’ll continue to come up short.
Domus is a marketing communications agency based in Philadelphia offering advertising, public relations, digital, and social media marketing expertise in an integrated approach based on sound, classic principles of marketing. For more information, visit us at http://www.domusinc.com.
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Apple will be coming out with a new iPhone this summer with significant advancements over the current model. But possibly more importantly, they will come out with two models – one for AT&T and one for Verizon.
This highlights the difference between Apple and AT&T. Apple has always been very proactive with its product development. It’s only within the last few months that the iPhone is being seriously challenged by competing phones (e.g., Google’s Android, etc.), but they already have the next improvement ready to go out. Moreover, as the market for AT&T iPhones gets saturated, Apple will continue to grow by now offering a Verizon model.
On the other hand, AT&T has consistently been too slow delivering on their product – the network – and as such their reputation in the market reflects that.
The day Apple releases their Verizon iPhone will certainly be a major blow to AT&T. It will be interesting to see if they recover.
In the world of wireless phone networks, AT&T has spent a lot of money staking out its brand position as the “fastest 3G network”, battling Verizon Wireless, who staked out the claim of “broadest coverage” (and a previous variation, “most reliable network”). AT&T’s problem, though, is that they did invest enough to maintain the physical reality of their claim.
First, Verizon marginalized AT&T’s brand position with their “they have a map for it” campaign, visually hammering their spotty coverage. In response, AT&T has tried to regain the word “fastest” in people’s minds with their own huge advertising campaign.
However, while they’ve been busy insisting that they’re the fastest 3G network, Sprint is starting to make that claim as meaningless as a horse-and-buggy manufacturer claiming they have the fastest buggy. Sprint is now rolling out its nationwide 4G network (in partnership with Clearwire), beating both AT&T and Verizon to the punch.
Sprint’s coverage is still spotty, as it tries to roll out its service in more and more cities, but it’s already available in almost 30 cities with more promised by the end of the year.
As such, Verizon’s brand position has not been damaged much – as far as they are concerned, Sprint occupies the same competitive position as AT&T – faster but with spottier coverage, and especially spotty in the high speed arena. On the other hand, AT&T’s position is significantly damaged. First Verizon made its “fastest” claim less significant by pointing out that its 3G availability was limited. And now Sprint has a fast, but spotty network; however, Sprint’s network is 4G – much faster than AT&T’s.
So what brand position does AT&T still hold? They’re the brand with not the fastest nor slowest network that is not the broadest nor spottiest in its coverage. This isn’t exactly a powerful position to hold. If I were a stock trader…
Domus is an advertising, public relations, and social media marketing agency based in Philadelphia. For more information, visit us at http://www.domusinc.com.
First they duke it out in the marketplace. Then the advertising starts getting fierce. Then they go to court. AT&T vs. Verizon? Nope. This time it’s Weight Watchers vs. Jenny Craig. This past week a New York court just issued a temporary restraining order against Jenny Craig forcing it to pull its current ad comparing its weight loss statistics vs. Weight Watchers’ statistics.
If Jenny Craig is smart, though, now is the time to pull out all of the stops in its advertising campaign. Unfortunately for what we’d like to believe, attack advertising does work – if grounded in reality and pursued aggressively enough. So either Jenny Craig’s advertising claims were completely made up (which should also tarnish the reputation of their advertising agency, Young and Rubicam) or there is some basis to them, but the wording in the ads stepped over some legal line. If the latter, rework the ad, rerun it, and get the most out of the existing PR.
It will be interesting to see how this plays out.
Verizon and AT&T have both dropped their law suits against each other, deciding to keep their competition within the market battlefield instead of the legal one. This is good for consumers because there is no value for us when companies get distracted from their actual business of delivering goods and services.
Unfortunately for AT&T, though, the courtroom wasn’t as much of a distraction as a desperate effort to move the fight out of the arena where they are losing. Their fundamental problem is that they have lagged behind on the important battle fronts – they have not been fast enough building out their 3G network and they have been dismal in providing satisfactory customer supoprt. In fact, Consumer Reports in their upcoming January issue is rating AT&T last among the four major carriers in 19 of the 26 cities they surveyed. The biggest thing going for them is that they have an exclusive contract with Apple for the iPhone, but even that might end in 2010.
Watching the action between AT&T and Verizon should reinforce some lessons for all marketers. Strong, aggressive advertising (as from Verizon) works – as long as you are advertising from a position of strength against a clear and importantly perceived weakness in your competition. On the other hand, no amount of advertising, internet presence management, social media interaction, and especially legal actions will help you if you haven’t successfully dedicated your organization to satisfying your customers with great products, services, and support. AT&T should have been spending its cash on these instead of on its lawyers.
Domus, Inc. is a full service marketing communications agency based in Philadelphia. We build inspiring brand platforms and aggressively communicate them using appropriate mixes of marketing media, including social networking, other internet presence management, online and offline advertising and PR, and other vehicles such as events. Please visit our web site at http://www.domusinc.com for more information.
In our last post, we compared the Verizon / AT&T battle over their wireless networks to the recent Manny Pacquio / Migel Cotto fight, with Verizon playing the role of Pacquio (who demolished Cotto). Well, the bell has rung in the next round and a battered Cotto (AT&T), makes a feeble effort at regaining the upper hand.
There’s just no comparison between the two sets of ads. Verizon’s “There’s a Map for That” ads are so simple, so biting, and so memorable – truly classic. But AT&T’s ad (above) just doesn’t have any punch. Great marketing works; poor marketing doesn’t.
Domus is a full-service advertising, PR, and internet marketing agency based in Philadelphia. For more about us, please visit our web site at http://www.domusinc.com.
If you’re a boxing fan you witnessed last week probably the best pound-for-pound boxer in the world moving up a weight class and taking apart his opponent in a brilliantly fought match. If you’re a marketing fan, you saw one telecommunications company dismantle the reputation of another in a brilliantly aggressive advertising campaign.
Manny Pacquio showed how a skilled practicioner can utlize his better speed, agility, accuracy, power, and timing in a boxing war. Verizon showed how a skilled practicioner can utlize its better speed, agility, accuracy, power, and timing in a marketing war. Manny let Miguel Cotto show what he had to offer in the first round (principally his power), determined Cotto’s weak points, and then picked him apart for the rest of the evening. Verizon let AT&T show what it had to offer these last couple of years (principally the iPhone), and then picked AT&T apart these last couple of weeks with its “There’s A Map For That” ad. (If you haven’t been paying attention to the Verizon/AT&T battle, here’s a synopsis.)
Once Pacquio started his attack, nothing Cotto did worked. Whatever Cotto tried, Pacquio responded better. Pacquio was relentless, knocking Cotto down twice before TKO’ing him in the 12th.
Similarly, AT&T tried sidestepping Verizon’s attack ads. Then they tried to move the fight out of the advertising arena into the court. And they similarly tried to respond with an open letter to their customers. Verizon reponded in court with a brief that opened with:
AT&T did not file this lawsuit because Verizon’s “There’s A Map For That” advertisements are untrue; AT&T sued because Verizon’s ads are true and the truth hurts.
And Verizon continues to respond with their new ad putting the iPhone on the “Island of Misfit Toys”.
So, what has been the result thus far? Daily tracking from YouGov’s BrandIndex shows that Verizon Wireless’ scores have soared while AT&T’s have plummeted. The press and buzz throughout the internet solidly favor Verizon. And sales? We’ll have to see. Is AT&T down for the count or will it get saved by the bell?
Domus is a full-service marketing consulting agency (and boxing fan) based in Philadelphia. We love a good rumble, especially when the marketers take off the heavy gloves. For more about us, please visit our web site at http://www.domusinc.com.
Ensure that you have a solid brand position, both in product/service and in message, and then attack. That’s the formula for a very effective form of advertising. Pundits regularly say that people don’t like to see attack ads – whether for political campaigns or for commercial brands – but they work. A recent case in point is Verizon’s newest set of ads attacking AT&T. At the same time Verizon was running ads for the new Motorola Droid that attacked the iPhone, but their really effective ads are the “They’ve got a map for that” ones. They went after AT&T at AT&T’s weakest point (their network coverage) vis-à-vis their own. YouGov’s BrandIndex is reporting that Verizon’s score has been rising while AT&T’s brand perception has dropped. In fact, AT&T has been hurt so much they filed a lawsuit against Verizon. They might serve themselves better by speeding up their network upgrade instead.
Domus is a Philadelphia-based marketing communications agency offering a full range of services. For more, please visit our web site at http://www.domusinc.com.