Editorial: Oh, It’s Complicated Alright

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JGS90HEbP5U]Watch that advertisement. It’s been shown on various channels over the past few days. It has more than 100,000 views on YouTube.

Isn’t it cute? Aren’t those kids hilarious? And the facetious use of comedic lingo? “That’s a pain in the buns.” How precious! Isn’t AT&T (obviously the adult man in the suit, because that’s what all knowledgeable businessmen are depicted as) so clever, so in tune to the needs of its customers?

But then, who are those customers?

Oh, you mean you don’t like being represented by a bunch of elementary age children?

This commercial¬†unknowingly¬†says so much. The obvious connection is that AT&T is insulting its users – not exactly something most companies with any marketing sense tend to do. Remember those “Genius” ads that Apple launched late last summer, which depicted Mac users as being fairly unintelligent and requiring an overly helpful Apple employee to get anything done on the Mac. Those were heavily criticized, and Apple went so far as to remove all traces of them from Apple.com and YouTube. Since then, Apple has resumed its track record of producing above-average commercials that don’t depict their average consumer as the Witless Wonder.

Unfortunately, American carriers aren’t renown for their mastery of marketing. And while the message of the ad can be seen as overly cute, there’s one particular line that sticks out:

“It’s not complicated.”

But isn’t it, AT&T? Isn’t the business of running a nationwide network inherently complicated? Have you seen your own Terms of Service? But that isn’t something that customers are actually supposed to read. So how about the coverage map, something that ad heavily touts, stating that AT&T has the largest “4G*” network available? There are seven keys in the map legend. Two of those are labeled 4G. One has an asterisk.

AT&T coverage map

That asterisk means HSPA+, not LTE. And, of course, this extra HSPA+ coverage allows AT&T to state that it has the largest 4G network, because 4G does not specifically refer to LTE.

Which is why AT&T wants it to be simple. It can’t be complicated, because AT&T doesn’t withstand the scrutiny.

ATT Logo

This isn’t to trash AT&T, while allowing Verizon or Sprint (or T-Mobile, for that matter) to get away. Every carrier does this: if it isn’t their “4G” definition, it’s their plans. While some carriers do appear to be more “honest,” the two largest have their hands covered in lies and half-truths.

So given that, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the big marketing message of the moment is that “it’s not complicated.”

Post a response / What do you think?