Verizon Ad Campaign Benefits the Carrier, Motorola, Hurts Apple, AT&T

Last Updated Nov 25, 2009 4:28 AM EST

Verizon's ad campaign bashing AT&T and, in the process, the partner-it-would-have, Apple, has benefited Verizon and Droid manufacturer Motorola in specific age and gender sets, according to YouGov, which produces the BrandIndex measure of relative brand strength. But whether that's enough to cause a big hurt, or even long-term shift in the balance of power, is up in the air.

Back in mid-October, right after Verizon started running its Droid ads, YouGov asked 18- to 34-year-olds whether they would recommend Verizon or AT&T to a friend:

Verizon received a rating of 8.3, while AT&T received a 1.4. A few days later, the carriers were approximately tied around a rating of 10, but from there, customer ratings of Verizon began to soar, while those for AT&T dropped.Around Nov. 5, AT&T's overall rating was approximately -8, while Verizon hovered near 28. BrandIndex says it interviews 5,000 people each day, and that its margin of error is plus or minus 2 percent.
The scores indicate a relative positioning, with higher positive scores being better.

And then the ads taking potshots at AT&T's 3G network started and, ultimately, AT&T tried to retaliate. The apparent result was improved standing for Motorola at the apparent expense of AT&T and Apple. I don't have the original report and must confess to be a little leery about the way AppleInsider has reported it because it points to an 18 plus segment of men, which is broader than YouGov or other market researchers generally split out age groups. I would have expected 18 to 34 again, but given the early hour at which I write, reaching YouGov's New York office for clarification is out of the question.

So for the moment let's go with the report as AppleInsider summarizes it. Apple's brand dropped from a peak of 48.1 in November down to 22, a number that Motorola beat by more than ten points, showing that the latter is benefiting from the ad wars:

"Motorola has seen its brand loyalty unaffected by AT&T's lawsuits against Verizon Wireless and ad war bashing," YouGov said. "But it seems to have taken a toll on Blackberry, which has withered under all the Droid/iPhone marketing and hype."
I'll be checking with YouGov to see how the numbers for Verizon and AT&T have stacked up since the prior report. Also, the latest data came before the Apple ads touting how users could talk and be online at the same time, so there may be some backlash yet to come. And given the talk between Verizon and Apple about carrying the iPhone, there are all sorts of other implications that could play a role.
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    Erik Sherman is a widely published writer and editor who also does select ghosting and corporate work. The views expressed in this column belong to Sherman and do not represent the views of CBS Interactive. Follow him on Twitter at @ErikSherman or on Facebook.