Thursday, July 17, 2003


Up2Speed: mLife Dies, AT&T Won’t Admit It Stunk

AT&T’s fuzzy and conceited mLife campaign was taken behind the barn and shot. Presumably by a smiling 30-something in high-contrast colors carrying a cell phone. One of the worst-conceived campaigns ever to soak up $120 million finally died, with AT&T’s firing of Ogilvy & Mather (O&M) and hiring of Goodby Silverstein & Partners. The client did not confirm whether the online portion of the account – with one of the largest online media budgets – will also fall to Goodby.

AT&T’s hired O&M to do for it what they had already claimed to have done for IBM: invent a branded word that would encompass a desired market category. With the conceit typical of the larger agencies, O&M had been bragging that it had invented the word “e-business” for IBM. Showing great gullibility, AT&T bought it.

Showing even greater gullibility, AT&T bought the mLife concept, a mish mashy hodgepodge of aspirations – all of which apparently involved smiling people carrying cell phones. The TV, print, outdoor and online blitz teased and cajoled viewers into wanting an mLife, but someone at the agency apparently forgot to include the part about what the heck an mLife was. Viewers thought the ads were pretty, mistakenly going out in droves to buy mutual life insurance.


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