SBD/April 1, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

AT&T Debuts Ads With NBA Legends, Playing Off Recent Spots With Kids

AT&T's most recent ads in its "It's Not Complicated" campaign feature comedian Beck Bennett speaking with a group of Basketball HOFers instead of children, and in a “sight gag that also serves to link the two series of commercials, the new ones, like the original ones, take place in a classroom,” according to Stuart Elliott of the N.Y. TIMES. AT&T's new spots featuring Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson and Bill Russell began running on Saturday around the NCAA Tournament. AT&T Mobility CMO David Christopher said the company for its NCAA Tournament ads thought it would be "fun to do a riff" on the commercials with the children, cast the former players as "a fun way to give a nod to basketball fans." Bennett in an ad called “Up Top" asks the players whether it is better to be bigger or smaller in basketball, a question that "echoes one he asks the children." He then "tries to high-five them," but it “proves awkward.” In another spot called “Slow Break,” Bennett says, “I mean, they don’t call it a slow break, do they?” Johnson jokes, “Well, in Larry’s case maybe they do.” The other players laugh, and Bird says, "It’s like I don’t have feelings." Bennett then “tries awkwardly to give the much-taller Mr. Bird a hug.” Christopher said that the two ads will “alternate with the commercials featuring the children." Elliott notes the basketball ads are “scheduled to end with the NCAA national championship game on April 8.” However, BBDO Atlanta Creative Dir Stephen McMennamy, whose agency created the ads, said "it's not out of the realm of possibility" for the company to continue showing them if the public likes them (NYTIMES.com, 3/29). USA TODAY’s Sean Highkin wrote the ads with the children “can be grating after a while,” but the spots with the former players work because of their "obvious camaraderie" (USATODAY.com, 3/30).
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