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February 2007

Speaking of Brand Destruction: AT&T Axes Cingular

The following press release officially announces that Cingular is going away and that whoever concerns themselves with brands at AT&T is high on some really fucked up drugs.  Cingular is such a strong mobile brand and reading this release putting forth concepts like:

While the AT&T logo will be prominent in all advertising and communications, the ads will initially include a transitional graphic with both the AT&T and Cingular logos. The co-branded element will help underscore the association of the two companies and transfer Cingular's strong brand equity to the new AT&T.

Good luck transferring that equity.  It's worked so many times in the past.  Can't think of a company for whom it's worked but I'm sure AT&T knows best.

Press Release: Cingular is Now the New AT&T

Advertising, Re-Branding Efforts Begin, Will Continue Throughout 2007

SAN ANTONIO, Jan. 12 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- AT&T, the standard bearer of communications excellence for more than a century, is getting younger on Monday, when the company folds the six year-old Cingular wireless name into the iconic AT&T brand.

Starting Monday, Jan. 15, AT&T Inc. (NYSE:T) is launching a new multi- media campaign to begin transitioning the Cingular brand to AT&T in advertising and customer communications, throughout Web sites and nationwide retail stores, and on company buildings and vehicles.

"Around the world, our customers recognize the AT&T brand for meaningful innovation, a commitment to customer service, high quality and exceptional reliability," said Edward E. Whitacre Jr., chairman and CEO of AT&T. "AT&T, BellSouth and Cingular are now one company, and going to market with our services under one brand is the right thing to do."

"Services are converging and the lines between wireless and wireline are increasingly blurred," said Boyd Peterson, analyst, Yankee Group. "Customers want simplification. By uniting the three company names into one, AT&T has simplified its message to the marketplace."

While the AT&T logo will be prominent in all advertising and communications, the ads will initially include a transitional graphic with both the AT&T and Cingular logos. The co-branded element will help underscore the association of the two companies and transfer Cingular's strong brand equity to the new AT&T. During the transition, the campaign will integrate popular imagery, phrases and icons from Cingular's traditional advertising, including the "raising the bar" tag line, the "Jack" character and the color orange.

Each transition campaign element will conclude with the Cingular and AT&T logos coming together while an announcer states that "Cingular is now the new AT&T." The broadcast spots will conclude with an animation in which the "Jack" character appears to "skywrite" the AT&T globe.

The campaign will kick off with several creative executions called "Raising It Higher," which morphs Cingular's familiar "raising the bar" tag line and imagery into the AT&T globe. The first version of this creative execution is called "Grain," which shows a combine harvesting wheat and appears to be drawing the Cingular five bars, but as the picture zooms out, the AT&T globe comes into focus. Both broadcast TV and print executions are scheduled to start the week of Jan. 15.

Additional spots called "Jets" and "Cars" will start appearing in the coming weeks. Additionally, over the coming months, AT&T will add new creative executions. The brand ads will be complemented soon by call-to- action product ads that will carry similar transitional branding elements.

As part of the re-branding initiative, approximately 2,000 nationwide company-owned wireless retail outlets and store kiosks will be transitioned over the coming year with AT&T-branded signage. Additionally, the approximately 15,000 personnel in these stores and kiosks will begin wearing AT&T-branded apparel in the coming months.

Callers will begin to hear the AT&T name mentioned on Cingular voice greetings in the coming weeks. Merger-transition messages will be placed on envelopes with customer billing starting in the coming weeks, and communications and the AT&T logo will begin to appear on customer bills starting in the coming months. Customers should watch the "remit to" line for when to make checks out to AT&T; those customers who pay their bills electronically or via credit card deduction will be notified as procedures change.

Customers will continue to see existing Cingular product and service names until all necessary legal and regulatory name-change filings are complete. The use of the AT&T and Cingular co-branded graphic will continue until customer awareness levels that Cingular has joined with AT&T are high. Once the transition ends, the color orange will continue to be associated with AT&T's wireless services, while the Cingular brand will be phased out.

AT&T estimates that 20 percent of the operating expense savings from the AT&T-BellSouth merger will come from advertising, as all operations are moved under a single brand. Previously, the three companies each supported distinct brands with three separate advertising campaigns.

AT&T is not disclosing the amount of the brand-transition campaign or media buy.

AT&T Emerging Media Retail Experience

Parallel with its re-branding efforts, AT&T is expanding its retail strategy to take advantage of Cingular's significant retail presence; thousands of stores nationwide are visited by millions of customers each month.

AT&T is creating an in-store "emerging media experience" where consumers can experience products and services before they purchase. Knowledgeable store personnel will be available to guide consumers through product trials and purchasing decisions.

AT&T has expanded its reach in its 13-state pre-merger local service territory, installing AT&T-branded media centers at more than 375 wireless stores. At these centers consumers can learn about, see live demonstrations and order AT&T Yahoo!(R) High Speed Internet and, where available, AT&T U-verse(SM) TV or AT&T Homezone(SM).

To help customers in many of these stores, AT&T will hire approximately 400 new sales representatives; many are in place today. These "home solutions consultants" will help customers learn about a range of AT&T wireline services that they can bundle with their wireless services. Additionally, customers today can arrange for a combined bill for wireline and wireless services and order AT&T Yahoo! High Speed Internet service as well as other key services.

In addition, AT&T Yahoo! High Speed Internet service is available through more than 750 agent-owned wireless locations, which also will have AT&T- branded signage. Through these additional locations, customers can order broadband and soon, other services.

Source: AT&T Inc.


Gates Foundation Profits From Pollution

Once again I've allowed my belief that rich people can do good things without simultaneously doing bad things to get in the way of reality.  Yes, I too assumed all that Gates Foundation stuff was a positive.  Didn't know they were making money off investments that dramatically pollute Africa while saving kids from polio so they could grow up and get leukemia.

Nice work!


Biased Beverage Research Exposed By Researchers

Scientists have now revealed that beverage industry funded research is biased toward's the industry's needs!  OMG!!!

Though some consider such a historically obvious conclusion to be controversial, you can check out the research report and a related column for yourself:

Relationship between Funding Source and Conclusion among Nutrition-Related Scientific Articles

Does Industry Sponsorship Undermine the Integrity of Nutrition Research?

It's odd but even I have to check my socially inbred tendency to assume that scientists don't cheat however, based on my direct observations in diverse settings ranging from anarchist live/work spaces to academic hallways to corporate confines, con artists and criminals appear to be randomly distributed throughout society.

Except for the holy priesthood, of course!


Insurgent Videos Winning Iraq Propaganda Wars

NEWSWEEK: Baghdad Embassy Draft Report: 'Inadequate Message Control in Iraq Is Feeding The Escalating Cycle of Violence'

Many Attacks on U.S. Forces Filmed, Edited Into Slick Propaganda Films and Ready to Download Within Hours; Some Attacks May Be Staged Mainly to Generate New Footage

NEW YORK, Jan. 7 /PRNewswire/ -- A draft report recently produced by the Baghdad embasy's director of strategic communications Ginger Cruz suggests that despite spending hundreds of millions of dollars, the United States has lost the battle for Iraqi public opinion, reports Baghdad Bureau Chief Scott Johnson in Newsweek's January 15 issue (on newsstands Monday, January 8). "Insurgents, sectarian elements and others are taking control of the message at the public level," the draft states. Videos of U.S. soldiers being shot and blown up, and of the bloody work of sectarian death squads, are now pervasive. The images inspire new recruits and intimidate those who might stand against them. "Inadequate message control in Iraq," the document warns, "is feeding the escalating cycle of violence." (A U.S. Embassy spokesperson claims the draft reflects Cruz's personal views, not official policy.)

(Photo:  http://www.newscom.com/cgi-bin/prnh/20070107/NYSU021 )

Sunni insurgents in particular have become expert at using technology to underscore -- some would say exaggerate -- their effectiveness. "The sophistication of the way the enemy is using the news media is huge," Lt. Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the former commander of U.S. forces in Iraq, told Newsweek just before he returned to the United States. Most large-scale attacks on U.S. forces are now filmed, often from multiple camera angles, and with high- resolution cameras. The footage is slickly edited into dramatic narratives: quick-cut images of Humvees exploding or U.S. soldiers being felled by snipers are set to inspiring religious soundtracks or chanting, which lends them a triumphal feel. In some cases, U.S. officials believe, insurgents attack American forces primarily to generate fresh footage. Advancements in technology have also made these videos easy to download and disseminate. "Literally, it's only hours after an attack and [the videos] are available," says Andrew Garfield, a British counterinsurgency expert who has advised U.S. forces in Baghdad. "You can really say it's only a cell-phone call away."

What the insurgents understand better than the Americans is how Iraqis consume information, reports Johnson. Popular Arab satellite channels like Al- Jazeera and Al-Arabiya air far more graphic images than are typically seen on U.S. TV-leaving the impression, say U.S. military officials, that America is on the run. At the extreme is the Zawra channel, run by former Sunni parliamentarian Mishan Jibouri, who fled to Syria last year after being accused of corruption. (Jibouri says he's being persecuted for political reasons, and can return to Iraq whenever he wants.) Since November the channel has been spewing out an unending series of videos showing American soldiers being killed in sniper and IED attacks. The clips are accompanied by commentary, often in English, admonishing Iraqis to "focus your utmost rage against the occupation." Among Sunnis and even some Shiites, Zawra has become one of the most popular stations in Iraq. "I get e-mails from girls in their 20s from Arab countries; some of them are very wealthy," Jibouri boasts. "Some offer to work for free, some offer money."

The U.S. military's response, on the other hand, usually sticks to traditional channels like press releases. These can take hours to prepare and are often outdated by the time they're issued. Lt. Col. Barry Johnson, director of the military's press operations in Baghdad until last September, complains that all military-related information has to be processed upward through a laborious and bureaucratic chain of command. "The military wants to control the environment around it, but as we try to [do so], it only slows us down further," he says. "All too often, the easiest decision we made was just not to talk about [the story] at all, and then you absolutely lose your ability to frame what's going on."

The consequences of losing the propaganda battle are real, reports Johnson. "One of these videos is worth a division of tanks to those people," says Robert Steele, a former U.S. Marine Corps intelligence officer. Not only do the insurgent videos draw recruits and donations, they don't give ordinary Iraqis much incentive to cooperate with the Americans.

(Read entire article at www.Newsweek.com)

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/16497895/site/newsweek

Source: Newsweek