Apple Insider and eWeek pick up BrandIndex's Verizon Wireless vs. AT&T data, followed by PC World and Daily Tech

Verizon's advertising propels brand perception while AT&T sinks

Verizon and Motorola's strong marketing push leading up to the launch of the new Droid handset had a significant impact on brand perception in the 18- to 34-year-old target demographic, pushing it well above AT&T, according to a study released Monday.

Daily tracking from YouGov's BrandIndex shows that scores associated with the Verizon Wireless brand have soared since the Droid advertising campaign launched on Oct. 18, up until the launch of the Droid last Friday. Verizon's score went from 8.3 to 24.2 on the study's scale, which ranges from -100 to 100.

During the same frame, AT&T's brand perception dropped, from 1.4 on Oct. 18 to -2.4 by Nov. 6. The ongoing study surveys 5,000 people each weekday from a representative U.S. population sample. More than 1.2 million people are interviewed each year, and the research is said to have a margin of error of +/- 2 percent.

Respondents in the target 18- to 34-year-old demographic were asked the question, "Would you recommend the brand to a friend?" While AT&T and Verizon were comparable in the latter half of October, Verizon pulled well ahead of the second-largest wireless carrier come November, leading up to the debut of the Motorola Droid.


The latest study follows a tough summer for AT&T, when overall consumer perception dropped significantly following the launch of the iPhone 3GS. That change was likely at least partially attributed, BrandIndex said, to AT&T's inability to meet bandwidth needs on its network following the launch of Apple's latest handset.

The Droid launched Friday to positive reviews. Building up to its release, a series of advertisements targeted Apple's iPhone, making claims of shortcomings with the tagline "iDon't."

In addition, Verizon has stepped up its advertising against the AT&T network, lampooning the iPhone "There's an app for that" phrase with the slogan "There's a map for that." Last week, AT&T filed a lawsuit over the advertisements, claiming that Verizon is misrepresenting its coverage areas and misleading consumers.


Verizon`s ATandT, iPhone Bashing Is Working, Says Study

AT&T's Verizon Ad Battle: Who's Being Hurt Worse?

JR Raphael, PC World

Nov 13, 2009 6:19 pm

Cell phone lovers, get ready to rumble: AT&T and Verizon are duking it out in an ad-based battle, and the fight isn't showing any signs of slowing down. Now, some new data suggests the public is starting to take notice.

AT&T's Verizon Ad Battle

First, let's set the scene: In one corner, you have Verizon. The company recently launched a series of ads attacking AT&T's 3G network. The spots, revolving around the phrase "there's a map for that," show side-by-side maps of AT&T's and Verizon's networks and claim Verizon has five times more 3G coverage. Combine those with the ongoing series of iPhone-bashing Droid commercials, and you've got a powerful one-two punch heading straight toward AT&T's kisser.

In the other corner, of course, is AT&T. The company that's taken countless beatings over its network is taking a stand against this latest round. AT&T sued Verizon over the 3G-focused ads, claiming the clips were misleading and causing the loss of "incalculable market share."

To be clear; AT&T's beef isn't with what the ads say about its 3G network, but rather what it believes the ads might imply: The maps, AT&T says, could lead a consumer to believe the company has no wireless coverage whatsoever in the whited-out areas, rather than believing only that it has no 3G coverage in those spots (a fact AT&T does not dispute).

"Through the use of a coverage map in [Verizon's] ads, they suggest through all white or blank space not only that AT&T doesn't offer 3G coverage but [also that it offers] no coverage at all," a spokesperson says.

The ads, by the way, feature clear captions that indicate it is the 3G networks being compared.

AT&T-Verizon 3G Ad

Now, AT&T's taking things a step further. The company issued a public statement this week to "set the record straight" with its customers. It also expanded its initial complaint to request Verizon pull its more recent ads, too -- the ones that show an iPhone on the "Island of Misfit Toys."

AT&T vs. Verizon: The Public Perception

Okay -- caught up with all the drama? Good. Now here's the important part: The ads, and perhaps the surrounding bickering, are in fact making a difference.

According to BrandIndex, a service that measures thousands of consumer brands year-round, public perception of Verizon has shot up since its ad campaigns began in October. AT&T's public perception, at the same time, has plummeted.

BrandIndex surveys a representative sample of the U.S. population every weekday. Prior to Verizon's recent campaign, Verizon had a "buzz score" among adults 18 to 34 years old of 8.3, while AT&T measured 1.4. By the end of last week, Verizon had jumped up to 24.2 and AT&T had dropped to -2.4. The buzz score ranges from -100 to 100 and represents how much positive news people report hearing about each company.

Perhaps even more telling, BrandIndex also measured how willing people said they were to recommend AT&T versus Verizon. In late October, the two companies were tied with scores of nine (on the same -100 to 100 point scale). By early November, Verizon had climbed up to 25, while AT&T had fallen to -8.

If all of that's not enough, the number of people reporting they're satisfied with AT&T has dropped in the past few weeks, too, according to BrandIndex's data -- while the satisfaction score for Verizon has remained constant.

"It's a pretty significant movement," says Ted Marzilli, global managing director of BrandIndex. "A fair number of people are believing or responding to Verizon's positive message, and they're also second guessing or altering their opinions of AT&T."

The effect could be a combination of the map-driven ads and the general buzz surrounding Verizon's launch of the Motorola Droid, Marzilli points out. And how long the impact will last, he says, is hard to gauge.

Regardless, it seems the majority of bloggers agree upon one thing: Whatever damage Verizon's ads may be doing, AT&T's flailing is only making it worse. The company could stand to take a lesson from a lifeguard: When you're drowning, the worst thing you can do is kick and scream. It only makes you sink faster.


Verizon Mocks AT&T's Ad Lawsuit, Commenting "The Truth Hurts"

Jason Mick (Blog) - November 17, 2009 6:01 AM -- DAILY TECH

The nation's largest wireless provider fires back in court

AT&T and Verizon, the nation's second largest and largest telecoms, respectively, are at open war. With Verizon's new Droid phone looking to challenge the iPhone as the reigning media smartphone, the pair wage battle in the court room over Verizon's commercials which depict AT&T's poor 3G coverage.

It has been reported that in some areas, such as New York City, that AT&T's call drop rates are as high as 30 percent -- or that it merely has no 3G service at all. However, AT&T does have broad coverage under its older EDGE network, and it claims that Verizon's ads are deceptive. AT&T's argument basically boils down to a claim that the average viewer is fooled to believe that the Verizon commercial's maps represent total coverage and not 3G coverage -- despite several textual and audio clues. Thus it claims the commercials are misleading and damaging.

Initially AT&T only sued over Verizon's "There's a map for that" series, which introduced Verizon's rich red map and AT&T's lacking blue map to viewers, all while poking fun at Apple's iPhone slogan ("There's an app for that"). AT&T recently expanded the suit to include Verizon's new Christmas themed ads "The Island of Misfit Toys".

Verizon has flatly refused to stop airing the commercials, and to AT&T's dismay, the dispute seems unlikely to be resolved until well into the holiday season. AT&T had hoped to quickly get Verizon's ads pulled from TV.

In court this week Verizon filed new documents, according to Engadget, which blast its competitor, saying that the lawsuit is a weak attempt from a player that just can't compete. States Verizon's filing, "AT&T did not file this lawsuit because Verizon's "There's A Map For That" advertisements are untrue; AT&T sued because Verizon's ads are true and the truth hurts."

Continues the filing, "In the final analysis, AT&T seeks emergency relief because Verizon's side-by-side, apples-to-apples comparison of its own 3G coverage with AT&T's confirms what the marketplace has been saying for months: AT&T failed to invest adequately in the necessary infrastructure to expand its 3G coverage to support its growth in smartphone business and the usefulness of its service to smartphone users has suffered accordingly. AT&T may not like the message that the ads send, but this Court should reject its efforts to silence the messenger."

As it sees its hopes of a favorable court ruling in jeopardy, AT&T has tried to set the record straight among its own customers, writing them a letter asking them to ignore what it perceives as lies in Verizon's ads. It writes that the Verizon commercials are "so blatantly false and misleading, that we want to set the record straight about AT&T's wireless data coverage". In the letter, the company highlights what it sees as abundant mixed coverage on its older EDGE and new 3G networks.

Regardless of whether AT&T's dreams of silencing Verizon's commercials come true, evidence indicates that the damage has already been done. In recent weeks Verizon's brand image has soared while AT&T's has sank according to Apple Insider, according to recent BrandIndex surveys by YouGov. The surveys looked at whether customers would recommend the respective telecoms to their friends. AT&T scored less than a -2 in the most recent study -- indicating not many customers would recommend getting an AT&T phone.

The commercials seem to be working -- in recent months Verizon's image has soared, while AT&T's has sank, according to YouGov, which tracks brand reputation. (Source: Apple Insider)


November 17, 2009 7:09 AM

Verizon Responds to AT&T Lawsuit: "The Truth Hurts"

Verizon mocks AT&T for whining in its response to lawsuit. Verizon's legal filing says "the truth hurts" and claims AT&T is simply trying to squash the marketing before the holidays. Tony Bradley


Verizon has responded to the AT&T lawsuit over the "There's a Map for That" marketing campaign with a legal filing of its own. Verizon's message to the court and to AT&T essentially boils down to three words: "the truth hurts".

The Verizon legal team should be commended. Legal briefs and filings don't usually make very compelling reading, but this one is actually a pretty good read. It has a little drama, a little humor, and ultimately makes the point that AT&T is simply trying to use the courts to obscure the simple truth that its 3G network is inadequate.

In the filing, Verizon states "Remarkably, AT&T admits that the 3G coverage maps--the one thing that is common to all five ads--are accurate and that the ads' express statement that Verizon has "5X More 3G Coverage" than AT&T is true."

Verizon goes on to say "In the final analysis, AT&T seeks emergency relief because Verizon's side-by-side, apples-to-apples comparison of its own 3G coverage with AT&T's confirms what the marketplace has been saying for months: AT&T failed to invest adequately in the necessary infrastructure to expand its 3G coverage to support its growth in smartphone business and the usefulness of its service to smartphone users has suffered accordingly. AT&T may not like the message that the ads send, but this Court should reject its efforts to silence the messenger."

The legal response from Verizon concludes by saying "This motion is a blatant effort to ask the Court to do what the marketplace will not do: shield AT&T from truthful comparative advertisements that Verizon has a right to air and that consumers have a right to see."

Touché. Well-played, Verizon.

Recent reports from show that Verizon's brand image is skyrocketing, while AT&T's has plummeted. AT&T could construe the reports to support its claim that the ads are misleading and damaging to its image.

Or, perhaps AT&T's claim has become a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. By suing Verizon and making a big deal over the ad campaign, AT&T has increased the exposure of the ads exponentially. If the shift in brand perception is a result of the ads, it could be because they're true rather than because they're misleading. The fact that AT&T is whining about it publicly certainly doesn't improve its brand perception either.

AT&T was hoping to get an emergency injunction to force Verizon to pull the entire marketing campaign pending the results of a full hearing. It appears that AT&T will not get that injunction and that this case will not be heard for awhile. Even if AT&T ultimately prevails, the holidays will be over, the damage will be done, and Verizon will most likely have ended the campaign of its own volition anyway.

Verizon isn't making any claim in the ads that AT&T's own customers haven't already stated. Consumers have taken issue with AT&T's high dropped call rate in some areas, sparse 3G coverage, and more. I doubt AT&T will be taking its customers to court to get them to stop complaining.

AT&T is its own worst enemy in this case. It is drawing attention to disparaging details about its own network which it admits are accurate, and coming off looking like whiners at the same time. Seems like a lose-lose and makes me wonder if the AT&T legal team isn't secretly working for the Verizon marketing team.