AT&T Sues Verizon Wireless: Updated

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AT&T filed a lawsuit this week against Verizon Wireless over its series of allegedly misleading ads carrying the tagline “There’s a map for that.”<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> In those ads, two different maps of the United States are presented side by side: One illustrating Verizon’s vast 3G wireless network, the other supposedly depicting AT&T’s weaker 3G coverage. Specifically, the AT&T map contains a large amount of white space--implying that there are large areas of the country where the company offers no 3G service.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> That white space is the point of contention in AT&T’s suit. “We believe that Verizon’s ads are misleading,” said AT&T rep Mark Siegel. “The use of white space gives the impression that there is no coverage provided in those areas. That’s simply not true. That's the problem we have.”<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> Siegel explained that AT&T’s 2.5G Edge network--which serves as a backup network for 3G subscribers--“virtually blankets the country,” and serves 296 million subscribers.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> The lawsuit, which was filed in U.S. District Court of Atlanta, uses some dire language, claiming that Verizon’s ads pose a serious threat to AT&T’s business. It reads: “As a result of the misleading claim, AT&T is losing incalculable market share, invaluable goodwill that it has spent billions of dollars to develop among consumers, and the significant investment it has made in its wireless network.”<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> Verizon was unavailable for comment.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> Meanwhile, as the two wireless giants volley back and forth, marketers say the conflict will force both brands to come clean about some of their claims.<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> “An ad war between AT&T and Verizon could really benefit customers,” said Harry Woods, co-creative director and partner, Woods Witt Dealy & Sons. “Competitive volleys based on real service information, like ‘Where do you have 3G coverage' and 'Where don't you?’ can really force the facts in front of consumers in a way that doesn't happen in a more benign competitive environment."<br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> But both brands need to be wary of a prolonged battle, said Woods. He added: “From an execution standpoint, brands shouldn't get into an ad war unless they are prepared to fight hard and win." <br clear="none" /> <br clear="none" /> <a href="http://www.brandweek.com" target="_blank">&#x2014; Nielsen Business Media</a>