Friday, January 12, 2007

Dropping Cingular Brand Still a Bad Idea

AT&T is making news this week for their still idiotic decision to abandon the Cingular brand. I criticized dropping Cingular when first announced, and I still think it is a bad move.

According to today's Detroit News, Cingular is the No. 1 cell provider in the nation. AT&T is old school. It is history. Most importantly, it is irrelevant to today's most prized demographics.

The land line is like the buggy whip. It's going away. They took the land lines out of Texas Tech dorms this year. Gone. No more.

AT&T's brand is not worth much to Gen Y, but Cingular is. Earlier, Advertising Age reported that $4 billion had been spent establishing the Cingular brand. That's billion with a "B."

This is an arrogant decision by a company run by a board of directors that I will bet is predominantly run by old white guys (yup, 11 out of 17 are old white guys; all look well beyond 40; and several look as if they were actually present when Alexander Graham Bell uttered the words, "Mr. Watson -- come here -- I want to see you.").

Memo to AT&T directors: the world has passed you by. To quote Eminem, "You're too old. Let go. It's over."

Cingular is the future. AT&T is the past. The students in my college class look at your technology much like I looked at two cans connected by a string.

So you're trashing $4 billion to revive a dying brand. Foolish.

Imagine someone buying the fledgling automobile company from Henry Ford, trashing the name and instead calling it the Summers' Buggy Company.

"No," you say.

Yes, sadly.

It's a bad move. To try to undo the $4 billion brand name, AT&T will be using both logos, the orange jack and the deathstar in coming months. They ever have some clever ads that will use themes from past Cingular ads.

In one clever ads, tractors that formed the "bars" image in previous ads will now form the deathstar logo. Albeit clever, it assumes a lot of memory on the part of viewers.

Verizon (No. 2 carrier) says they are not changing their strategy. If I were an existing cell phone brand, I would launch a full out assault. The brand switch will create confusion, and I would attempt to capitalize on that.

If it were me, I'd rename AT&T to Cingular. That's progress. That's future.

I'm not predicting that the behemoth will go under, but it's a huge waste of money. If I were a major stockholder, I would be furious.

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2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

1 out of 1 Brand Strategists in Ohio fully agree with your assessment.

Cingular has a great amount of brand equity, in the correct direction.

Even if you don't know about specific plans, you know that Cingular is young, fresh, and cellular.

It's sad to think about the progress that is lost by abandoning the name and other memorable imagery.

9:51 PM  
Anonymous Sam said...

Are you sure that your agreement is not -- in part -- based upon the fact that AT&T is the No. 1 phone provider in the state of Michigan?

1:15 PM  

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