Verizon and AT&T Lessons in Marketing

One thing I’ve seen forever is the power of a strong simple reason to buy (if you like buzzwords, call it value proposition, or USP, for unique selling proposition) in advertising. Don’t be funny. Make a simple obvious point.

True, advertising is struggling to change as fast as media splinters. But the simple point is still very powerful.

This goes way back. “You’ll wonder where the yellow went when you brush your teeth with Pepsodent.”  “Colgate cleans your breath while it cleans your teeth.” A lot of us grew up with those advertising slogans. We only had three television networks. And research showed they worked better than cute, funny, or subtle.

Flash forward to AT&T vs. Verizon in their recent ad battles. I don’t like the mud slinging or bad-mouthing of competitors element in this duel, but I think they’re demonstrating something important about making marketing points. Watch how well they focus in on making the single point:

  1. Verizon assaults AT&T by showing us vastly unequal coverage maps. It’s Verizon’s 3G vs. AT&T’s 3G. Notice how their “there’s a map for that” strikes straight at the iPhone commercials. And makes a single point.
  2. AT&T strikes back by comparing its total map to Verizon’s total map. That one glosses over the 3G vs. all other distinctions. Strong point, single point.
  3. AT&T strikes back again with the browse-the network-while-still-on-the-call commercials. There too, those commercials (nice stuff, I like how they tell an actual story) make a single point.
  4. AT&T strikes back yet again with a list-of features ad. Not so powerful, in my opinion. Too much information.

I’m not suggesting that major league advertising for national audiences isn’t declining in importance. I’m not suggesting that bad-mouthing a competitor is often a good idea. I am suggesting, though, that this well focused advertising, each ad making a single point, is a lesson on marketing.

(Image: Knights Duelling, by Eugène Delacroix via Wikipedia)


  • Dennis Dalangin says:

    It will be interesting who wins out here because even Apple has thrown in a few support images in there by displaying their logo at the end of one of the ATT commercials.

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