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AT&T Proves March Madness Not Complicated

Posted by Sheila Shayon on April 1, 2013 05:12 PM

AT&T is leveraging the popularity of its "It's not complicated" campaign by switching out children from the TV commercials that broke in November with retired basketball stars such as Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Magic Johnson and Bill Russell for March Madness.

In partnership with the NCAA and Turner Broadcasting's TBS, TNT and truTV, AT&T is showing its social media muscle, pumping out Promoted Tweets from the NCAA's @MarchMadness Twitter handle during numerous college basketball games, such as Florida Gulf Coast's two-game run to the Sweet 16 round.

"We want to provide behind-the-scenes content so people from their living rooms on their couches can be a part of the on-site game experience," said Blair Klein, social, digital and emerging communications lead at AT&T, to Adweek.

"Engaging fans around the things they are passionate about helps live our core values—connecting with customers and allowing them to engage with each other and the brand. This [Twitter-based] program reflects that, as well as the speed of conversation. It ties in with our 'fastest 4G LTE network' copy."

AT&T's Promoted Trend ads are costing $120,000 a day but are well worth it according to Klein. "There's the greatest number of games, exciting action and Twitter volume going on during that time. Certainly having a Promoted Trend rather than just Promoted Tweets helps us rise above the other noise."

The campaign “has really struck gold,” commented David Christopher, CMO AT&T Mobility, to the New York Times. “We thought, wouldn’t it be fun to do a riff…in a fun way to give a nod to basketball fans.” 

"We want to further it, keep the spark. We didn't want to jump the shark," says Stephen McMennamy, a BBDO Atlanta creative director who worked on the campaign. “We knew we have a very likeable campaign. People have taken to it.”

The basketball stars ad will continue to alternate with the children because “The kids aren’t going away,” Christopher commented, with the stars scheduled to re-retire with the NCAA national championship game on April 8 (or as McMennamy said, “Drop the microphone, leave the stage.”)

“Despite all of the noise surrounding which wireless carrier’s network is better, our core belief has been that it really isn’t complicated,” Christopher added.  “When you look at the things that matter in a wireless network, we offer what consumers want – the nation’s largest 4G network, the nation’s fastest 4G LTE network, and the ability to talk and surf on an iPhone. Our goal with “It’s Not Complicated” was to find a campaign that would build familiarity where each message could live as a part of a whole – all while being as simple and straightforward as possible.”

AT&T is also sponsoring photography from the tournament at NCAA.com and pushing out selected NCAA Courtside pics via Twitter, and on Monday released its new Final Four app.

Here's a peek at the March Madness "It's Not Complicated" campaign featuring the two sets of stars — check out more on AT&T's YouTube channel.

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