AT&T, the standard bearer of communications excellence for more than a century, is getting younger on Monday, when the company folds the six year-old Cingular wireless name into the iconic AT&T brand.
Starting Monday, Jan. 15, AT&T Inc. is launching a new multi- media campaign to begin transitioning the Cingular brand to AT&T in advertising and customer communications, throughout Web sites and nationwide retail stores, and on company buildings and vehicles.
"Around the world, our customers recognize the AT&T brand for meaningful innovation, a commitment to customer service, high quality and exceptional reliability," said Edward E. Whitacre Jr., chairman and CEO of AT&T. "AT&T, BellSouth and Cingular are now one company, and going to market with our services under one brand is the right thing to do."
"Services are converging and the lines between wireless and wireline are increasingly blurred," said Boyd Peterson, analyst, Yankee Group. "Customers want simplification. By uniting the three company names into one, AT&T has simplified its message to the marketplace."
While the AT&T logo will be prominent in all advertising and communications, the ads will initially include a transitional graphic with both the AT&T and Cingular logos. The co-branded element will help underscore the association of the two companies and transfer Cingular's strong brand equity to the new AT&T. During the transition, the campaign will integrate popular imagery, phrases and icons from Cingular's traditional advertising, including the "raising the bar" tag line, the "Jack" character and the color orange.
Each transition campaign element will conclude with the Cingular and AT&T logos coming together while an announcer states that "Cingular is now the new AT&T." The broadcast spots will conclude with an animation in which the "Jack" character appears to "skywrite" the AT&T globe.
The campaign will kick off with several creative executions called "Raising It Higher," which morphs Cingular's familiar "raising the bar" tag line and imagery into the AT&T globe. The first version of this creative execution is called "Grain," which shows a combine harvesting wheat and appears to be drawing the Cingular five bars, but as the picture zooms out, the AT&T globe comes into focus. Both broadcast TV and print executions are scheduled to start the week of Jan. 15.
Additional spots called "Jets" and "Cars" will start appearing in the coming weeks. Additionally, over the coming months, AT&T will add new creative executions. The brand ads will be complemented soon by call-to- action product ads that will carry similar transitional branding elements.
As part of the re-branding initiative, approximately 2,000 nationwide company-owned wireless retail outlets and store kiosks will be transitioned over the coming year with AT&T-branded signage. Additionally, the approximately 15,000 personnel in these stores and kiosks will begin wearing AT&T-branded apparel in the coming months.
Callers will begin to hear the AT&T name mentioned on Cingular voice greetings in the coming weeks. Merger-transition messages will be placed on envelopes with customer billing starting in the coming weeks, and communications and the AT&T logo will begin to appear on customer bills starting in the coming months. Customers should watch the "remit to" line for when to make checks out to AT&T; those customers who pay their bills electronically or via credit card deduction will be notified as procedures change.
Customers will continue to see existing Cingular product and service names until all necessary legal and regulatory name-change filings are complete. The use of the AT&T and Cingular co-branded graphic will continue until customer awareness levels that Cingular has joined with AT&T are high. Once the transition ends, the color orange will continue to be associated with AT&T's wireless services, while the Cingular brand will be phased out.
AT&T estimates that 20 percent of the operating expense savings from the AT&T-BellSouth merger will come from advertising, as all operations are moved under a single brand. Previously, the three companies each supported distinct brands with three separate advertising campaigns.
AT&T is not disclosing the amount of the brand-transition campaign or media buy.
AT&T Emerging Media Retail Experience
Parallel with its re-branding efforts, AT&T is expanding its retail strategy to take advantage of Cingular's significant retail presence; thousands of stores nationwide are visited by millions of customers each month.
AT&T is creating an in-store "emerging media experience" where consumers can experience products and services before they purchase. Knowledgeable store personnel will be available to guide consumers through product trials and purchasing decisions.
AT&T has expanded its reach in its 13-state pre-merger local service territory, installing AT&T-branded media centers at more than 375 wireless stores. At these centers consumers can learn about, see live demonstrations and order AT&T Yahoo! High Speed Internet and, where available, AT&T U-verse(SM) TV or AT&T Homezone(SM).
To help customers in many of these stores, AT&T will hire approximately 400 new sales representatives; many are in place today. These "home solutions consultants" will help customers learn about a range of AT&T wireline services that they can bundle with their wireless services. Additionally, customers today can arrange for a combined bill for wireline and wireless services and order AT&T Yahoo! High Speed Internet service as well as other key services.
In addition, AT&T Yahoo! High Speed Internet service is available through more than 750 agent-owned wireless locations, which also will have AT&T- branded signage. Through these additional locations, customers can order broadband and soon, other services.