I guess it is finally over. The folks from the New, New, New, Really Our Marketing is New AT&T started killing the Cingular brand today according to this article from the NY Times. I wrote about this a long time back in a post called Rebranding Cingular to AT&T Wireless - More From The Marketing Geniuses at AT&T and subtly wrote about it in the post called AT&T's Ad Guru Talks About Bungling, Err I Mean Bundling. Obviously, I think it is a poor decision to rebrand Cingular who took an old brand (AT&T Wireless) known for poor call quality and service and made it very exciting and cool. Plus, lets not forget about all the goodwill it generated with their failed IPO which laid the ground work for other telecom IPOs (like Vonage) to stiff their customers.
Back in the day, I remember than Chairman of AT&T Bob Allen complained about call quality at AT&T's corporate HQ in Basking Ridge so they installed a cell tower there. I personally stopped using AWS when I commuted from Long Valley to Jersey City along Route 78 and couldn't figure out why I had dropped calls in Newark.
What really annoyed me the most was this comment from AT&T's Senior VP of Advertising Wendy Clark which just seemed like some token research to back a plan that already was started in motion when the acquisition was announced:
“What consumer and business customers want is a single provider of services for the way they live and work today,” Ms. Clark said, “and if it’s one company, they want it under one name.”
You know what, I've seen similar research when I was wireless bundle boy with AT&T and the research showed similar results. However, you know what those pesky consumers consistently do? They un-bundle their services. You know why? Companies fail to recognize these valuable customers and with credit card billing you can make these bills go away anyway. Plus, the only meaningful bundle is when the device bundles the service so until you don't need a wireless phone separate from your home phone separate from your TV which is separate from your internet; so, it doesn't matter if multiple companies service you. Finally, the real reason consumers want one company is because they think they will be getting a bottom of the bill discount. There I said it.
Sadly, Cingular will join the brand name scrap heap as soon as AT&T's Marketing department spends like $100 million to rebrand it. I guess what really upsets me the most is that I won't be there to spend it ;-)