When two companies merge, when one of them subsumes its brand into the other, it's only natural that the survivor should advertise its new identity to the world. Except when it isn't.
So why, pray tell, is AT&T -- the reconstituted Ma Bell comprised of the regional phone provider SBC and the long-distance provider AT&T -- embarking on the "biggest ad campaign in its 120-year history?" As far as I can tell, its primary aim is to confuse the heck out of us poor consumers.
I'll explain. Close your eyes. Wash from your mind the fact that I've been talking about AT&T for the last three paragraphs. Just listen for a moment to this slogan and tell me who you think it's advertising for: "Your World. Delivered."
Five gets you 10 that anyone hearing this, and not already knowing who's behind it, would attach that tagline to one of these companies: DHL, FedEx
But it gets worse. If this is truly the biggest ad campaign in AT&T's history (the company's words, not mine), then one can only assume it will be accompanied by the biggest advertising budget in the company's history. Although AT&T is keeping mum on the actual dollar number that amounts to, you can bet it will be a big one. Surely AT&T wants the campaign to boost revenue and reverse the multiyear slide of its sales, margins, and operating cash flow. But ask yourself, which would be more Foolish: to spend huge gobs of cash to (mis)advertise an already well-known brand, or to reduce costs, conserve cash, and drop greater profits to the bottom line?
All of which leaves this Fool sorely confused -- not just over who the tagline belongs to, but over just what the heck AT&T was thinking when it agreed to pay for it.
AT&T is hardly alone in the stupid marketing tricks competition. Once you're done with this column, click on over to revisit GM's
Fool contributor Rich Smith has no position in any of the companies named above.