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AT&T shelves spat in new ad effort

AT&T’s new ads mix whimsical fantasy, with childlike drawings prancing through a city, and voiceovers. AT&T’s new ads mix whimsical fantasy, with childlike drawings prancing through a city, and voiceovers. (AT&T via Associated Press)
Associated Press / April 14, 2010

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NEW YORK — AT&T has hung up on the ad wars, dumping its ad campaign responding to rival Verizon’s slams on its wireless phone coverage.

AT&T Inc.’s new “Rethink Possible’’ sales pitch touts grand visions for untethered Internet access and avoids tearing down its top competitor. It could mean a truce to a battle specialists say had no clear winner.

The new campaign, which debuted last weekend during the Masters golf tournament, tells people AT&T can help them simultaneously talk on their phones and surf the Internet or go from room to room to watch recorded television.

It represents a strategy shift that positions the company as being more than just a wireless carrier. AT&T wants to be thought of as a company with many ways to improve people’s lives beyond phones.

The five ads mix whimsical fantasy — childlike drawings prancing through a city — and voiceovers urging people to “Explore, try, do.’’

Later this week, Verizon plans to debut a new campaign targeted at its business customers, but the company said it had nothing new to announce about its current consumer campaign, which maintains its attacks on AT&T’s wireless coverage.

The attacks surged as the industry fights for new customers in a mature cellphone market, where the majority of people who want phones already have them. They also have to contend with prepaid plans that are cheaper and growing in popularity.