Watch CBSN Live

How Apple Turned AT&T Into the Red-Headed Stepchild of Wireless

T-Mobile's new ad for the MyTouch 4G neatly illustrates two current trends in electronics brand management:
  • Using Apple's own ads against Apple (AAPL) itself.
  • Bashing AT&T (T), the easy victim of the wireless world.
In the new ad, an attractive girl in a sundress is the MyTouch and the iPhone 4 is played by a guy carrying an uncool, bald man on his back -- AT&T, the only service provider for Apple's iPhone. "That'll slow you down," zings MyTouch girl. The ads are shot with the featureless white background used in Apple's beloved, long-running Mac vs. PC ads from TBWA/Chiat/Day:

The ad makes its point, but not without reminding viewers that Apple remains the master of marketing in the electronics world. It runs the risk of mistakenly promoting Apple (you'd be surprised how little accurate information distracted viewers glean from ads). The electronics biz has a long history of nakedly borrowing Apple's ideas. Here's a recent ad for Bantam Live, a sales contact software seller, which parodies Apple's delightful Ellen Feiss ad from 2002 ("It devoured my paper!"):

Here's a Zune parody from Microsoft (MSFT):

And here are five others, if you're interested.

AT&T's lawyers will doubtless be scrutinizing the MyTouch ad closely. That company was forced to change its entire campaign this year after Verizon (VZ) proved in court that its coverage was indeed superior, just as its ads claimed. The company axed actor Luke Wilson from its spots and replaced him with a bunch of scattershot, unrelated ideas from ad agency BBDO.

Although there are four main providers of wireless service in the U.S. -- T-Mobile, Sprint (S), Verizon and AT&T -- three of those companies appear to have an unspoken pact to attack AT&T following its legal defeats.