Can You Hear Me Now?

There is an excellent sportswriter out here in Kansas City, Joe Posnanski, who blogs about all kinds of things – sports, of course but also pop culture, technology, and advertising.  In his latest blog post, he discusses his reaction to Verizon Wireless’ “3G coverage map” ad campaign.

(By the way, if you are unfamiliar with the campaign – and AT&T’s controversial reaction to it – click here)

Posnanski’s post says a lot about how Verizon has successfully re-framed AT&T and the iPhone…and how AT&T has failed in its attempts to argue against that frame.  Here is what he says:

"OK, so my thought on the Verizon Maps commercials: They are brilliant. I was going to write an entire post on this, but since I’m already writing about 20,000 words a week I have not had the time to do it. So I’ll sum it up with that one word. Brilliant*.

"*OK, fine, I’ll write a few more words — one of my best friends and I often play this little business game. He’s a successful business guy, I’m a goofball sportswriter, so we feel qualified over various dinners to come up with all sorts of ideas how we would handle hugely intense business challenges like how we would save the newspaper business or how we would save the music business or how we would save health care or whatever.

"One of the big ones we came up with: How can anyone beat the iPhone? The iPhone is an absolute marvel, there’s just no way around it. It’s a phone that allows you to play games, watch movies, listen to music and do about 12 million other things. It’s small and cool looking and lightweight. I mean, seriously, how are you going to beat it? Are you going to come up with a BETTER phone? Maybe, but even if you could, well, how much better? The Droid is going for the “better phone” concept. But I’m not giving up my iPhone for a phone that might be two percent better. The iPhone is just an overpowering thing.

"And then, Verizon comes up with these Map commercials — where they show how much better 3G coverage they have than AT&T (the only company that supports that iPhone). And — BLAM! To be honest, it doesn’t even matter what the map actually shows because what you see is “Damn, that Verizon map looks to be a lot better covered than the AT&T map.” You aren’t thinking: “Wow, I guess that means as an AT&T customer I might not get 3G service in Neverbeenthere, Idaho or Askfordirections, Mississippi.” No, you are thinking: Man, is Verizon service THAT MUCH BETTER?

"And then, you start to notice that, yes, you lose some calls on your iPhone. In fact, you lose quite a few calls. And while you are calling back, you wonder: “Would that have happened on Verizon? I mean, they have that really full map.”

"And then friends say: “Man, I hate your iPhone. You are constantly losing calls.”

"And so on.

"Here’s how I know that the Verizon commercials hit bone: AT&T has come back with preposterously shrill and weak comeback commercials where they brought in the second-most famous Wilson brother to yelp that, AT&T does TOO have good coverage and it’s Verizon that sucks and … la la la la … just … shut up already.

"A haymaker commercial really is a thing of beauty. I don’t even LIKE the Verizon commercials. I mean, they’re not really funny or entertaining. But it seems to me they are brutally effective."