AT&T Gives mMode the mLife Treatment

Continuing efforts to position its services as lifestyle products, AT&T Wireless is putting major advertising clout behind the introduction of its version of i-mode.

Drawing on elements of its earlier, controversial “mLife” rebranding campaign, the Redmond, Wash.-based mobile carrier introduced the service, dubbed mMode, in multiple-page spreads in Tuesday’s Wall Street Journal and The New York Times.

Copy for the ads, which are titled “mMode — How will you use it?” reads, “Lovers will use it to fan the flames. Sisters will use it to share secrets. Grandmothers will use it to see their grandchildren … Suddenly you can do much more with a wireless phone than make or take a call. Thanks to mMode service, you can now use it to manage your life, entertain yourself, and connect in new ways to the people, information, and things you care about.”

Color screen shots show various applications using mMode services — online schedules, networked gaming, accessing Yahoo! , sending e-mail, capturing and sending digital photos, shopping at and so on.

Similar pieces ran Tuesday in the 13 local markets where mMode is available, and another ad is slated for Wednesday in USAToday. In coming weeks, television, radio and online spots will break, also focusing on specific applications while still set in the tone of the print ads.

The ads were designed by AT&T Wireless’ agency of record, Ogilvy & Mather Worldwide. Spending was not disclosed.

The font, layout and touchy-feely diction continues the trend begun in the company’s earlier mLife campaign, which sought to recast AT&T Wireless’ mobile service as a lifestyle choice, rather than simply as a telecommunications package.

A cryptic, weeks-long “teaser” campaign for mLife reached a head in January during the Super Bowl, when AT&T Wireless announced its association with mLife. The TV, print, online and out-of-home effort sought to evoke feelings of both freedom and interconnectedness, without referring to promotional deals or calling plans — tactics that have become the mainstay of most wireless services advertising.

“mMode really builds on our mLife campaign — it’s essentially becomes one of the ways you can personalize your mLife,” said AT&T Wireless spokesman Jeremy Pemble. “The campaign is very much in the same flavor, and is building on that execution. It’s about helping customers realize that your phone is more than a phone.”

Just as the core mLife ads avoided using any of the industry-standard lingo for wireless services, Pemble said AT&T Wireless sought to avoid specifically referencing concepts like “the wireless Web” in the new advertising.

“Part of the execution is about a distinctive break from how [Internet-enhanced mobile services] were communicated in the past,” Pemble said. “It was ‘Internet-capable phones,’ the ‘wireless Web,’ or ‘wireless Internet’ — we believe the industry over-hyped that, to its detriment,” he said, referring to customer disappointment for the pared-down Web experience available on mobile phones.

“Now, we’re not saying it’s an ‘Internet Jr.’, it’s ‘a phone, plus,’ he said. “Part of it is about setting the right expectations, so you’ll notice very little mention of the word ‘Internet,’ per se.”

As with the mLife campaign, the new work also continues to shy away from in-depth description about the mMode service’s technological aspects — specifically avoiding the acronym-heavy terminology that “has really been prevalent in how these next-generation networks have been marketed,” Pemble said.

“We love our acronyms — like GPS, GPRS — but consumers don’t want that, they want simple,” he added. “It’s no longer about the technology, it’s about the services and the ways that people can use the technology for value.”

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