Telecom Signaling Industry News

[January 12, 2007]

Cingular re-branding: Phone company campaign will stress it's now AT&T

(Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, The (KRT) Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge) Jan. 12--Cingular wireless will launch a branding campaign Monday to teach consumers that the company's new name is AT&T.

The wireless phone provider, a joint venture of Bell South and SBC Communications, became part of AT&T with the merger of AT&T and SBC Communications. All parts of the company are being re-branded under the AT&T name.

The company did not disclose the price tag for the print and broadcast campaign, but analyst Will Power of Robert W. Baird & Co. in Dallas predicted that it could run as high as several billion dollars.

"It's not insignificant," Power said.

The first TV ad shows a combine harvesting wheat, cutting what appears to be the iconic Cingular bars into a wheat field. The camera zooms out and the bars curve into the circular AT&T logo.

Denise Koenig, spokeswoman for AT&T, said the end date for the campaign would be determined by customers acceptance of the new name.

"We do different kinds of research," Koenig said, citing focus groups and customer surveys that will be used to gauge consumer awareness of the name change.

As part of the campaign, about 2,000 company-owned Cingular wireless retail outlets across the country will get new AT&T signs, and the 15,000 people who work in the stores will get new AT&T logo clothing.

Callers will start to hear the AT&T name mentioned on Cingular voice greetings in the next few weeks, and information will be included in bills. Customers will get instructions on how to make out their payment checks and direct electronic bill payments.

But the color orange now associated with Cingular will stay even after the name is phased out, the company said.

AT&T estimates that 20% of the operating expense savings from the AT&T-BellSouth merger will come from advertising, as all operations are moved under a single brand.

"In the longer term, it makes sense," Power said of the strategy.

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