- In December 2017, T-Mobile released a holiday-themed video depicting AT&T as a monster killed by CEO John Legere.
- AT&T just filed a complaint against T-Mobile, alleging the company intended to mislead the public with the cartoon.
- The video didn’t make that big of a splash in December but is now getting more views due to the publicity AT&T created.
In 2003, Barbra Streisand attempted to suppress aerial footage taken of her home in Malibu, CA. Streisand sued the photographer, Kenneth Adelman, for violation of privacy, as she had not permitted anyone to photograph her massive, beachfront property. Before the case went public, the photograph had been viewed six times online; after the lawsuit, the views jumped to half-a-million. This phenomenon is now known as the Streisand Effect: the attempt to remove or censor information has the unintended consequence of bringing more attention to the information.
It appears AT&T is not familiar with this social phenomenon, as lawyers representing the company filed a complaint against T-Mobile in response to a claymation holiday ad that had little impact when it went live in December. Now, of course, more people will view it than ever. Here it is, right here:
If you can’t watch the ad because of your location or just because you’re at work and can’t be caught watching silly cartoons, we’ll give you the gist. Claymation John Legere finds himself in a winter wonderland akin to the one in Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, where a two-headed blue and red monster is causing a “blizzard” of fees, taxes, and other maladies on the people. Using his magic magenta sleigh, he “cuts through the bullshit” (direct quote from the video) and saves the holiday season for wireless customers everywhere.
It’s pretty funny, and definitely falls in line with the usual antics from John Legere and the “Un-Carrier.” But AT&T apparently wasn’t laughing, as it filed a complaint with the National Advertising Division. The company alleges that the ad “made unsubstantiated, false, and misleading claims, and disparages and denigrates AT&T.”
If AT&T is referring to the two-headed monster, then yeah, I can see how it would call that a false and misleading claim; that monster certainly doesn’t exist! And if it does, no company would want to be associated with it! It’s so mean and scary!
The holiday video had 2.5 million views on Twitter, and about 11,000 views on YouTube before the news broke of the complaint. Now the video has 2.55 million views on Twitter and 20,000 views on YouTube. It’s the Streisand Effect happening in full force. So even though December 2018 is ten months away, feel free to share the video with your friends so they can judge for themselves if AT&T is genuinely being defamed. \
T-Mobile, in response to the complaint, claimed no wrong-doing and moved for the case to be dismissed. However, the NAD refused and deferred action to the FTC and FCC for a full review. We’ll update this article if and when the FTC and FCC issue their decision on whether or not a cartoon version of a CEO riding a magical sleigh is a violation of fair business practices in advertising.