Wednesday, November 04, 2009

Ad Biz at Death's Door

Verizon has been running a TV ad touting its extensive 3G coverage area.

AT&T admits the ad is factual - Verizon has a significantly larger 3G footprint which is very obvious when looking at the two coverage maps that are shown in the ad.

AT&T's complaint? It surveyed some people in a mall, 53% of whom thought that the maps meant there was no cell service in the white (non-3G) area of the maps. When AT&T complained, Verizon put a caption in the commercials that said "voice and data service available outside 3G coverage area." That wasn't enough for AT&T, it sued Verizon for false advertising.

I guess the legal analysis goes if enough people are stupid enough to get the wrong impression from an ad, the ad must be "false."

This is a body blow to the advertising business. Are they going to be forced to kill all those beer and after shave commercials that have gorgeous girls surrounding scruffy guys quaffing brews and slapping on smelly liquids? No more ads for Lexus convertibles that come with a beautiful girl with long legs only partially covered by a slinky dress in the passenger seat? Will Hair Club for Men be forced to use the same lighting and poses for the before and after photos?

Does this mean the end for the push-up bra, the sine qua non of false advertising?


fermicat said...

They could hire the same guy that goes into overdrive talking about all the fine print on the automobile TV commercials. Or the high speed side effects disclaimer person on the drug ads.

Posol'stvo the Medved said...

I have a friend who runs an ad agency who has indicated that advertising has become a whole new world with the advent of cable and satellite (segmentation) and Tivo (bypassing). So, ummm, yeah. Advertising as we have known it for years may be breathing its last. But don't take that to mean that advertising per se is dying. Look for more interstitials and product placements and meta advertising. Like, "You can watch this show for free online, but first you need to sit through this product endorsement..." kind of thing.

Dave said...

Fermi, aren't those things the small type at the bottom of the page?

Pos, I read something somewhere that people are actually watching the commercials when they play back recorded shows. Habit and intertia or something.