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November 20, 2009


The litigation/smackdown battle between AT&T and Verizon gets better with each new ad campaign, each new accusation and each brief filed in court. If you haven’t been following the burgeoning spat, it all started with AT&T’s successful ad campaign for the iPhone for which they are the exclusive network provider.

You are sure to have heard: “There’s an App for that!” A clever, recognizable, rhythmic sounding catchphrase that sent droves to the iPhone and an AT&T carrier contract.

Then along came Verizon heavily advertising the newly launched Droid as a better phone on a better network!” After hammering the iPhone with ads pointing to some of Droid’s killer features, Verizon followed up with an ad campaign for its massive 3G network coverage. The ads show maps – fulsome red for Verizon and sparse blue for AT&T. Verizon’s catchphrase? “There’s a MAP for that!”

Pretty good theatre so far, huh? But it gets better. Next, AT&T filed a lawsuit against Verizon to cease and desist with their ad campaign, saying that the information in Verizon’s commercials was misleading and damaging.

AT&T didn’t dispute the coverage issue, but claimed that the Verizon commercials implied that AT&T customers couldn’t use their mobile phones or surf the web outside of an AT&T 3G area. An Atlanta federal judge disagreed, declining to grant AT&T the injunction which would have forced Verizon to drop or suspend their ad campaign. So, it would appear that Verizon has won round One.

AT&T, however, vowed to continue pursuing legal remedies and hit back at rival Verizon with an ad campaign of their own. The 30-second spot features well known actor, Luke Wilson, who asks the question, “Who offers the best 3G experience? Let’s compare.” He then proceeds to do so, placing X’s on an orange display board next to features supported by AT&T and then one lonely X in the Verizon column which fails to stick and clatters to the floor. Amusing. Expect more to come in this purple drama. And yes, look for it to stretch into a rather long and drawn out back and forth with more clever catchphrases flying about.

How about this one: “There’s a laugh for that!”