San Francisco -- Leading up to a major rebranding effort
that officially kicks off next month, AT&T Broadband & Internet Services has begun
airing cross-channel spots in its markets nationwide to prepare them for the name change
from TCI (Tele-Communications Inc.) to AT&T Cable Services.
AT&T Broadband senior vice president of marketing Doug
Seserman unveiled the new consumer ads, which launched earlier this month, at a panel on
bundling at the CTAM Summit here last Monday.
"TCI is now AT&T," an announcer says in the
new spots, which show installer trucks and uniforms with the AT&T logo. "We're
planning for a future full of exciting possibilities, all designed for you."
The ads are not the first tip-off to TCI customers of the
change in ownership. Earlier on-air ads highlighted the June 1998 merger between AT&T
Corp. and TCI and promised ongoing service upgrades.
Starting Aug. 1, former TCI systems will change the way
they answer the phone, using the new AT&T Cable Services title. Seserman said the
on-air campaign -- as well as a number of other marketing tactics surrounding the
rebranding -- will continue into the early part of next year. "It will be the first
quarter of next year before the brands are fully transitioned," he added.
Individual services will also be rebranded, to AT&T
Digital Cable and AT&T@Home, for example.
AT&T had considered the term "broadband" when
coming up with a new name for its Cable Services division, but the company dismissed it,
AT&T Broadband president Leo J. Hindery Jr. said, "because nobody understands
He joked that AT&T Broadband & Internet Services
had set a milestone by being the first MSO with two ampersands in its name.
When asked whether any TCI systems were not in position to
be rebranded as AT&T, Hindery said no, adding, "They'll all be rebranded starting
"We must continually strive to meet the exacting
standards of one of the finest customer-service-oriented organizations not just in the
country, but in the world," Hindery said in a keynote address at the opening general
session last Monday.
Hindery noted that AT&T Broadband and other MSOs that
undergo rebranding efforts enjoy a "honeymoon period" with consumers, and they
must be careful to have their customer-service processes in place to take advantage of it.
Consumers today are "absolutely unforgiving if you
fail them," he said, noting that cable customers today have a choice in
On the video side, "We have many more opportunities to
fail our customers" than telco providers do, he said, "as [consumers] spend
substantially more time with their television than they do with their telephone."
In addition to giving former TCI systems a clean slate from
a branding perspective, the AT&T name also brings clout as the MSO continues to roll
out new communications services like high-speed Internet and telephony.
"AT&T really is the strongest name in the bundling
area," Seserman noted, adding that consumers also respond to bundling offers from
local phone companies and top computer companies like Microsoft Corp. and IBM Corp.