AT&T Recruits Comedians to Act Out a New Service
When AT&T Wireless first launched its mMode paid wireless content service in late 2001, issues with usability and positioning hampered its acceptance by consumers and the telecom company’s own sales channel.
In late 2003, mMode was redesigned with better accessibility, higher quality content, and fresh services such as online dating, news, and videogames in an easier-to-use format. But relaunching the service meant overcoming the negative perceptions of the original version throughout the company’s sales channel. “The more the employees understood the service, the better they could sell it,” says Seismicom chief marketing officer Bill Carmody. “We had to focus on them.”
The agency took a page from its consumer-based street efforts with a campaign that recruited a group of comedians to “live” out the new mMode service in front of the sales force as they were heading into the all-important holiday selling season.
With the expressed purpose of connecting with 15,000 AT&T Wireless sales associates, call center employees, and corporate employees, the comedians were sent off to invade regional fourth-quarter kick-off meetings around the country. Each comedian was given a specific role to play that related to an mMode function. “Game Boy” demonstrated online gaming, “Dating Couple” showed off matchmobile.com offerings, “Nick the Newsstand Guy” showed off CNN to Go … you get the picture. “It was a way to hit our people over the head with how cool the new mMode was,” says Sam Hall, mMode vp. “We wanted the new service to stick in their minds.”
Not only did the program break up the typical mundane sales meeting, but it did it in a memorable, informative, compelling way. More than 1,700 people were directly interacted with at the meetings for more than three minutes each, and another 8,000 employees were touched via demos at 14 corporate campuses. More than 20,000 mMode tip cards were distributed.