AT&T Gets Rude with Advertising

Unfortunately, AT&T has chosen an option many marketers chose. The company just lost its CMO (Chief Marketing Office) and has been left to make new decisions… decisions prior leadership opted against, for good reason.

Now, during prime-time advertising, AT&T is running so-called “Muted Ads”. These are advertisements that run all the time, but are a special copy that run without any spoken words, and usually have music tuned to a very low level. The goal is to catch the mind… people passively watching TV (ignoring the advertisements) are still listening. The brain, having heard the ad previously, expects to hear the words of the ad (even if the listener doesn’t remember the words). When the brain doesn’t hear the words of a TV ad (which has already been heard), it triggers a minor annoyance, causing the viewer to look up, and watch the television advertisement again.

The goal is simple: trick the brain of people watching to look up, and see an ad that the viewer has already seen. AT&T had turned down this option many times in their past. Their CMO knew that this antagonizes many viewers… the annoyance is recognized by many, and it turns them off to the company being intrusive. AT&T is the first (and we hope, the last) carrier to employ Muted Ads. TV viewers need not be annoyed by advertisers who can’t effectively market their products with a TV ad… the first time.