Daily Archives: January 13, 2007

(AT&T is) Junking the Jack

Yesterday, CNN reported that AT&T is beginning to extinguish the brand of cellphone operator Cingular and that it will launch a campaign Monday to mark the change.

Furthermore, AT&T’s name and logo will eventually replace Cingular in a process expected to take several months. And I don’t know if I should laugh or cry.

First of all, it shouldn’t take more than a few minutes to cut and paste one logo or name in place of another. Even the great incompetent PHB would realize that a simple change such as this shouldn’t require more time than it takes the magic paper machine to spit out a number of pages equal to the current number of pages with the wrong logo. Updating a TV add with today’s media editors is just a matter of cutting out the old animated logo and splicing in the new one, and making a few tweaks. Maybe a day if your Media PC Guru is a perfectionist.

I know, I know – the real issue here is the brand, and I recently told you Don’t Buck the Brand – but when you get right down to it, that’s exactly what this multi-phase multi-month multi-multi-million dollar effort is doing – bucking the brand. After all, their number one goal is to squash it like a bug. So why spend tens of millions of dollars of advertising a joint brand just to spend tens of millions of dollars again in a few months to advertise a single brand? Why spend millions of dollars on new uniforms just to toss them all into the incinerator in a few months? Why pay outrageous maintenance fees to update all of your software to automatically include two logos on all printed materials just to pay those outrageous maintenance fees again in a few months to print one?

There’s smart procurement, there’s dumb procurement, and then there’s just truly wasteful procurement. And that will likely be the next year at AT&T.

And all for no good reason. Unless they think that either (a) we’re too dense to understand a straightforward announcement that says “We, AT&T, bought Cingular. You are now an AT&T customer. We pledge to give you the same great quality of service. Your bills will now come from AT&T – here’s what the new bill will look like. For questions, see our website or call.” or (b) we’ll leave in despair because we believe that AT&T will not offer us the same quality of service – in which case their multi-month, multi-multi-million dollar effort to convince us AT&T really is Cingular will simply delay the inevitable – since if we really do believe that it’s the bouncing jack logo that symbolizes quality, then we’re still likely to leave when it disappears. Either way, they’ll be wasting hundreds of millions of dollars when all is said and done – hundreds of millions of their customer’s money – and for many of you, your money – since it will be their customers, and maybe you, who will end up paying more for the same service in the end.

So, even though I want to laugh at the idiocracy, all I can do is cry.