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AT&T vs. Verizon

By Kirk Littell
A heavyweight ad battle continues to rage during commercial breaks across America. It’s a somewhat equitable battle in terms of dollars spent but my scorecard shows AT&T getting drubbed by Verizon in terms of creativity.

AT&T continues to advertise in “damage control mode” after Verizon’s recent onslaught of ads, with a new spot featuring actor Luke Wilson. If you watched any TV over the weekend you invariably saw him standing in the middle of the US map where he tosses postcards to all of the locations covered in AT&Ts 3G network. This spot is very tedious as he slowly reads city names one by one and adds odd “fun facts” as he throws the cards. The initial ad gains some momentum when you see a second commercial where he continues to throw cards until the map is bursting with them. Kudos on that media buy, but this pair seems like a big “so what”.

All of this was of course brought on by Verizon’s choice to deride AT&T’s coverage areas in multiple ads that coincided with the release of it’s new 3G phone, The Droid. They turned the iPhone’s “There’s an app for that” line into “There’s a map for that” and started attacking the largest US phone company with said maps. This ad (seen in the photo above) uses a classic holiday special to compare the networks. But as entertaining as these commercials are, comparing the maps side-by-side isn’t exactly fair. Or at least that what AT&T argues in their lawsuit against Verizon, saying that they do have 2G coverage in the areas that are not 3G-ready. (Verizon’s map for AT&T only depicts the 3G areas and nothing more; they’ve omitted the 2G and 2.5G coverage areas.) reports: “U.S. District Judge Timothy Batten said that while the ads, which use maps to compare the companies’ third-generation networks, might be “sneaky” or “clever,” they are “literally true.” AT&T will have another chance to ask the court to prohibit the ads in a Dec. 16 hearing. Batten said AT&T is unlikely to prevail.”

Stay tuned, and if you read this blog with your 3G device just stay out of Death Valley, I don’t think either wireless carrier covers it – yet.


November 24, 2009 at 9:43 pm Leave a comment

Pittsburgh Public Schools, Pathway to the Promise

By Kirk Littell

This is a TV spot AXIS recently created for the Pittsuburgh Public Schools to help promote the “Pathway to the Promise” to ensure that every student is “Promise-Ready”, meaning that they are academically eligible to receive up to $5,000 per year towards their post-secondary education (college, vocational school, etc.) This is one part of a larger branding strategy that AXIS developed for PPS around promoting this program to the community. It is their commitment to build a culture of expectations, promote aspirations for higher education, and ensure that students are on course to be eligible for Pittsburgh Promise scholarships.

November 8, 2009 at 6:55 pm Leave a comment

Websites Go Green by Going Black

By Kirk Littell

Consider this. Your website is more green if it is black. In January of this year, Mark Ontkush wrote a blog post that claimed if Google changed their page background to black, they would save 750 megawatt-hours a year.  As Mark says:
Blackle - Energy Saving Search

As noted, an all white web page uses about 74 watts to display, while an all black page uses only 59 watts. I thought I would do a little math and see what could be saved by moving a high volume site to the black format. Take at look at Google, who gets about 200 million queries a day. Let’s assume each query is displayed for about 10 seconds; that means Google is running for about 550,000 hours every day on some desktop. Assuming that users run Google in full screen mode, the shift to a black background will save a total of 15 (74-59) watts. That turns into a global savings of 8.3 Megawatt-hours per day, or about 3000 Megawatt-hours a year. Now take into account that about 25 percent of the monitors in the world are CRTs, and at 10 cents a kilowatt-hour, that’s $75,000, a goodly amount of energy and dollars for changing a few color codes.

Enter Blackle, a customized Google search, created by Heap Media in response to Mark’s post as directly stated on their About page. Amazing.

October 6, 2009 at 4:42 pm Leave a comment

Extra! Extra! Paperless Society Almost Here

By Kirk Littell

When the almighty “they” speak of a ‘paperless society’ it’s typically in reference to paper — you know, office paper, correspondence, forms, spreadsheets, etc. I for one still see that model being a long ways off (have you ever tried to read 30 continuous pages on-screen?). What is practically imminent though is the newspaper-less society. Yeah, I know the Boomers still like their news physically in front of them (and don’t forget those Sunday coupons!) but show me a tween, college student or young professional reading a newspaper that they had to buy — you can’t.

In case you hadn’t noticed, the New York Times stopped a feature last month called TimesSelect where one had to have a print subscription in order to access certain areas of the website (the Op-Ed pieces and the archive sections). With the practice of SEO driving more and more people to news portals it makes more sense, if you’re the Times, to give the masses full access to your content. In today’s media, having a big audience is what counts because those metrics can be turned into ad revenue. BuzzMachine put it like this: And TimesSelect cost the paper much more in the internet age: It took the Times columnists out of the conversation and reduced their influence in America and worldwide. Worse, it diluted the paper’s Googlejuice. Even as the Times acquired, the company shut off some of its content from Google’s search and bloggers’ links. That was its greatest harm.”

American Express seized an opportunity to take credit for the paradigm shift (see circled copy in their ad on the right) and not only did they benefit, but it looks like the Times has, too. Website traffic is up dramatically: “The Op-Ed section reached 560,057 unique visitors last week, up from 245,942 for the week ending 09/15/07, while overall site traffic hovered around 3.8M, up from 3.4M in the same period. Op-Ed columns have also driven major viral traffic, claiming 4 out of 5 Most E-Mailed stories in today’s online edition.” Source Looks like a win for everyone, well, maybe the loggers aren’t too happy. What are we ever going to do with all of these damn trees, anyway? 🙂

October 6, 2008 at 4:30 pm Leave a comment


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