Wednesday, September 21, 2011

UR Doin it rong: AT&T

Remember “The Odd Couple” TV show?  Remember how whenever Jack Klugman’s slob Oscar would do something gauche, Tony Randall’s effete Felix would shake his head and intone “Oscar...Oscar...Oscar...?”  Well, even though I resemble Oscar much more than I do Felix, I feel the need to shake my head and mutter “AT&T...AT&T...AT&T.”

America’s second-largest mobile company utterly failed at a mobile promotion.  That would be like if America’s second-largest automaker put tires from America’s second-largest tire maker on one of their vehicles, only to have the tires fail and roll the truck over.  OK, not that bad.  But still.

Let’s review this one.

On Monday, I had the great fortune to witness a baseball milestone, Mariano Rivera’s breaking of the all-time saves record.  No, I’m not going to talk about baseball again.  Don’t fret.  I arrived early to Yankee Stadium because I like watching batting practice.  While sitting in the stands, I noticed an ad for AT&T with a great offer: text a greeting to have it shown in the stadium.  So I decided to thank my dad for the tickets.

Sure enough, my text appeared on one of the screens that hangs off the facing of the upper deck.  Cool.

Then I got a reply from AT&T: “Thx 4 ur message!  U have 1 entry in Join Our Team sweeps.  Go to [URL] and enter for a chance to win exclusive experiences from the Yankees.”  Also cool.  So I clicked on the link in my text.  Up came a page on Major League Baseball’s site.  With the text “This feature is not available on your phone.”

As the texters say: WTF?

As a mobile company, AT&T should not have this kind of problem.  Moreover, AT&T already has the reputation of the company that drops iPhone calls, particularly in New York.  So if AT&T can’t handle this simple promotion, why should the consumer who uses Sprint, T-Mobile or Verizon believe that it can do better with the complex business of running a phone network.

While all lapses in marketing execution hurt a company, failures of a brand’s bread-and-butter hurt the most. Got any examples of bad execution? Please share in the comments.

1 comment:

  1. I've definitely experienced this in several variations. Some other examples include following a link shared by someone, only to have the deep link removed by the switch to the mobile version of the site, which has no search capability. Another dreaded experience is going to a site which has no mobile version, but includes a pop-over asking me to join the site or their mailing list. Sometimes, on a smaller screen, the close button for this pop-over is actually off of the screen, and you're unable to close it. So much for reading that page.
    On the other hand, NPR is a shining example of how to make a mobile site. They didn't just create an app, and leave their site alone, they actually re-engineered their entire site for mobile. Dell also has a great mobile-optimized site.
    Speaking from my own experience (and it sounds like you have a similar view), if I can't access a site through my cell phone or tablet, the chances that I'll actually retry the site on my desktop are slim to none. Even if they offer a mobile app, I probably won't download an app just to view one article.
    One more note: AT&T actually has fantastic apps that allow you to manage your account, and they have 4+ star reviews from users. However, the thought and effort that has been expended on these apps is lost on anyone visiting, or, like you, responding to a text message. The key, in my opinion, is consistently applying a mobile design and strategy to every entry point - or at least the primary entry points.