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AT&T's Advertisment Strategies
Advertising has become an integral part of 21st century society. Everywhere we go, we are constantly being exposed to advertisements; whether by a T.V. commercial, an advertisement banner on the side of a web page, or a billboard on the freeway. Often times they influence our shopping decisions, whether it be consciously or subconsciously. According to Yankelovich, a market research firm, the average city dweller in the 1970s viewed 2,000 advertisements a day compared to 5,000 today. This gives one an idea of the great lengths that many companies have undergone in order to sell their products and services along with the many strategies they use to convince consumers.
. Telecommunications giant, AT&T, is the largest provider of local and long distance telephone services in the United States with a customer base of over 150 million people. A great part of their success can be attributed to how well they are able to advertise their services. In a November 2009 issue of "PC World", the magazine contained an advertisement for AT&T's long distance telephone service to Mexico which depicted a Mayan pyramid made out of pennies and underneath it had the phrase, "Call Mexico Now For Just Pennies". By using the Mayan pyramid's association with Mexico and the low monetary value of the American penny, AT&T used logic and symbolism to target the Hispanic population of the United States through its advertisement by portraying its telephone services as being an inexpensive way to keep in contact with friends and family in their native land.
The Mayan pyramid of Chichen-Itza, also known as the Pyramid of Kukulkan, is perhaps the most well known icon of the country of Mexico. Considered to be one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, this structure once served as the political and economic center of the Mayan civilization and has now become a famous, historical representation of Mexico's past. By using this powerful symbol in their advertisement, AT&T attempts to relate its services with the people of Mexican decent living in the United States which creates a strong appeal specifically targeted at them. According to a survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau in 2006, of the total Hispanic population of the United States, 65% or 28.3 million were of Mexican decent which is almost 10% of the total population of the country. The large percentage of the culture living in the U.S. shows the logic behind AT&T’s decision to focus their advertisements on large ethnic groups from which they can gain new customers. Furthermore, the use of a national and architectural symbol to represent Mexico in an advertisement demonstrates AT&T’s emphasis of their expansion to global markets due to the diverse population of the United States which provides an excellent opportunity for worldwide business.
The penny in 21st century American society is regarded as being practically useless. When found lying on a sidewalk, most people consider it to be unworthy of the time and energy that is required to pick it up. In the minds of most Americans, it seems that the penny has lost its low value of one hundredth of an American dollar. When compared to foreign currencies like the euro, were 1 penny is equal to 0.00678 of a euro, the penny does indeed give the impression that it is worthless. It is on this widely accepted ideology of the penny that AT&T draws on in its advertisement. By using pennies as part of their advertisement, AT&T makes the logical argument that choosing its telephone services will be cheap, as a long distance call will only cost a few cents per minute and spending a few cents doesn’t create a noticeable dent in one’s budget. Furthermore, the penny’s value is a symbol of the number One which can be attributed to several meanings such as strength in unity and new beginnings. From this symbology, AT&T’s advertisement plays on the idea that its services attempt to create oneness as well as a better connection between its customers and the people they are attempting to communicate with internationally. In addition, the idea of a new beginning serves to give AT&T a feeling of freshness that presents potential customers with the idea that the company’s fresh perspective on global communication will provide them with a great new experience that offers superior service for a reasonable price.
AT&T’s advertisement uses an effective strategy to sell their services by creating a unique relationship between the Mayan pyramid of Kukulkan and the American penny. Depicting this pyramid as being composed out of pennies creates an obvious connection between Mexico and cheapness. When this is used in AT&T’s advertisement, it makes the assumption that having AT&T will be inexpensive in making phone calls to Mexico which is the exact message that AT&T is trying to get across. The war on the ever growing world of consumers and the competition as companies fight for success depend on how they market their products and services. Only through the right combination of creativeness and meaning will the victor be decided.