A new client of mine recently turned me onto an "oldie but goodie." You may not remember this television advertising campaign from AT&T called "You Will", but I remembered it in an instant. Television advertising was still king back in 1993, and I was at Johnson & Johnson and had just launched a new teen skin care brand called Clean & Clear. It was a wildly successful launch and I was loving marketing.
This campaign from AT&T was a breakout because it predicted all these cool things that technology was going to bring us to improve our lives. Advances in how we communicate, learn, travel, take care of our home, and monitor our healthcare. And the company that was going to bring all this amazing technological advances to us? AT&T of course! It was quite startling at that time. Not to exaggerate, but we were all talking about it. Living in the metro New York area, I can also tell you that I had a lot of friends who worked at AT&T. They were a player.
Looking back at it now, not quite twenty years later, it's even more startling. The number of things that have actually happened is amazing. Not everything, but quite a few of the predictions came true. Security systems for the home, e-books, GPS navigation for the car, monitoring devices for wellness ... very cool. The company that really did bring us all these technological advances? Not AT&T.
The giant (not only in size but in influence as well) that was once AT&T is a shadow of itself now (remember the GIANT statue at the main entrance ... it was a WOW). Still around, which is saying a lot, but sadly it did not make its own prediction. Which really is sad because it was a brand that had tremendous equity and that made a promise to improve our lives. It was a brand that understood the balance of functional benefits and emotional connections, even back then. It was a brand that we all had in our day to day lives. Some of us still do, but not to the magnitude of what was promised.
As many marketers say, a brand is a promise. Now surely AT&T has evolved their brand promise through the years to change with shifting market issues and competition, and I wish them well. For me, a brand is also an experience and it's fascinating how the brand experience of AT&T has radically changed. Perhaps that's the reason why it's not quite the gentle giant it once was?
What's your experience? Jim.
President of Lippe Taylor
Author of The Experience Effect