By Ryan

I hate advertising that directly attacks the competition.  Subway’s ads are notorious for taking on McDonald’s, which seems extremely silly, because Subway’s main contention is that their food is healthier, a fact that almost everyone already knows and agrees upon, but still chooses to eat McDonald’s over Subway’s anyway.  To me, it’s a huge imaging mistake for Subway to acknowledge McDonald’s, because to do so is to remind everyone that McDonald’s kills Subway in sales and does so without acknowledging that their competition even exists.  Judging by their ads, McDonald’s is all the Subway folks think about.

Of course, if McDonald’s were to suddenly start making public claims refuting Subway’s attack ads, it would seem petty and childish.  Even though Subway drags their image through the mud, McDonald’s would only do it worse by acting publicly offended by that lardass Jared.  This is a lesson that AT&T hasn’t learned.

If you haven’t heard, AT&T is suing Verizon over ads that the latter ran comparing the 3G networks of both carriers.  The ads point out that Verizon has five times more 3G coverage in the continental United States than does AT&T, a company that dominates the smartphone market on the basis of its iPhone-exclusivity contract.  AT&T claims that the ads are misleading, because they say that viewers may think that the white areas on the AT&T map have no coverage, when in fact most of it is covered by the 2G (“Edge”) network.  This might make sense if not for the fact that the ads are explicitly about 3G coverage.

The bigger problem here is that AT&T has a notoriously bad 3G network that is too small in coverage and often overcrowded in areas where there is coverage.  And instead of devoting energy to improving their coverage (the best option), or responding to the ads by claiming they are continually improving coverage and leave it at that (second-best option), they draw attention to their horseshit network by making a national story out of a petty lawsuit (the second-worst option, the worst being hiring a guy because he used to be fat and never second-guessing that logic).

Most people don’t pay attention to television commercials, but many people do pay attention to news stories involving two of the biggest telecommunications companies in the country.  Doesn’t anyone at AT&T realize this?  Take a page from the McDonald’s playbook next time: take the high road by ignoring the petty attack ads, and instead get revenge by dominating in sales.  Or do it your way: make a little problem a big problem, and deflate your own branding and image in the process.  Grow up, AT&T.

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