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Can Mark Wahlberg's New AT&T Campaign Stem Customer Losses?

Mark Wahlberg says “the entertainment-loving people of America” should be able to watch their favorite TV when and how they want in a new campaign for AT&T that pulls together the telco giant’s various offerings.

The campaign, called “Terms & Conditions,” pitches AT&T’s DirecTV, internet service and wireless service by describing how customers can stream shows and live TV across their devices using AT&T with unlimited data.

“We don’t want just some of our television on [the phone], we want all of it — all our favorite shows and live channels. Even C-SPAN,” Wahlberg says in one spot as he and actor and comedian Rob Corddry tuck a dozing politician in with a pillow and blanket. Then, he whispers: “A valuable and underappreciated public service.”

The campaign is the first time AT&T has brought all of its product lines together under one campaign with the same message, according to Brad Bentley, exec VP-marketing at AT&T Entertainment Group.

Walter Piecyk, an analyst at BTIG, said in an email that the company is focused on an integrated strategy in an attempt to “stem its customer losses.” He said the company’s post-paid phone churn rate — which refers to the rate of customers leaving — has been improving while Verizon has worsened.

“Something must be working with bundling,” he said.

The campaign also features comedian and actor Tracy Morgan, sports broadcaster Jay Glazer and actor James Marsden as his character in HBO sci-fi thriller “Westworld.” The ads, as well as a parallel Spanish-language version featuring “Jane the Virgin” star Gina Rodriguez, will run across TV, print and digital.

AT&T announced the deal to work with Wahlberg last month, the latest in partnerships with celebrities including Reese Witherspoon and Taylor Swift.

“Mark collaborated with us on these ads, along with director Peter Berg, over the course of a few months as we talked through how to best get his message across,” Bentley said in an emailed statement.

In October, AT&T announced plans to buy Time Warner in an $85 billion deal that is under review by the Justice Department. AT&T and Time Warner have reportedly tried to win approval by painting themselves as weaker rivals to the cable industry and other tech players in the broadband and TV market. But Piecyk said he doesn’t believe AT&T is “overly worried” about obtaining regulatory approvals for its deal.

And Brian Wieser, an analyst for Pivotal Research Group, said the focus in the new campaign is more likely on DirecTV, which AT&T acquired in 2015, than on Time Warner.

“I think they are trying to present themselves as friendly/helpful to consumers with their existing business portfolio,” he said in an email to Ad Age. “I think they may be mindful that this could help make them more appealing – or less unappealing – to regulators, but I don’t think it’s the only goal.”

The company declined to disclose marketing spending for the campaign.

AT&T worked with Omnicom Media Group-owned Hearts & Science for media, BBDO Worldwide for creative and Organic for digital.

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