AT&T: Rollover and die

While we’re on commercials, I have a very brief post. For the longest time the following AT&T commercial bugged me for reasons I couldn’t quite pinpoint. I found it somewhat amusing, but that unnameable thing niggled at the back of my mind.

AT&T Family Talk One

Then came another commercial featuring (I think) the same family. Similar scenario:
AT&T Milky Minutes ad

And seeing that made me realize what bugged me about the first commercial. Setting aside the fact this is a white, traditional nuclear family being represented, what bothers me about this is how the mother is right … and is basically scoffed at for being logical. First by her son in commercial, and then by her husband and sons in the follow-up ad.

It makes me wonder what AT&T is trying to sell. Obviously, rollover minutes are good, so why is it the person endorsing them is made fun of in their very own commercial? Try as I might, I cannot see anyone producing a commercial in which three women laugh at a man for being practical and logical.

ETA: I fail at embedding vids.

ETA from JK: I got it. 😉


  1. says

    You know, I wonder if they’re actually targeting mothers on the assumption that moms will get a good laugh at how their stupid families ignore their perfectly good advice.

    If so, the execution falls short because they’ve made the moms into stereotypical “nags.” They should have been portrayed as snarky – long used to being ignored by their stupid families. Or something.

    And you’re right, it gets worse in the second commercial because the snickering family gets the last laugh.

    I don’t know what’s going on there. AT&T sucks in every way, IMHO.

  2. Firebird says

    And, uh, as a total aside, if you haven’t used your rollover minutes at any time from September to April, isn’t it likely that you are paying for more minutes than you need? 😉 Also the ad doesn’t tell you that they do expire after 12 months.

    In any case, I know I cringe when there are these kinds of unpleasant family/relational situations. I don’t find it funny or cute or anything, so I have hard time judging, but yeah, these ads are annoying. Woman trying to help her family and be thrifty = bad. Woman buying shoes and spending her family’s money = bad. Woman having anything to do with money = bad. We can’t win for losing.

  3. says

    Firebird makes another good point – it’s not even funny. There is no redeeming value.

    Lindabeth, go right ahead – good article there!

    I must also at this point relate why I would never use AT&T cell service. They have the worst reception of anyone around here and they lie lie lie about everything. I’m forced to deal with the bastards on my current home phone/DSL, and the first thing they did was lie about a rebate they promised me, then claim they couldn’t verify I’d been promised that rebate. And I said, “Oh, so if I sued you claiming you’d offered me TWICE that rebate, you’d have no way of verifying or denying it in court? Sweet! Thanks, I’m going to hang up and call a lawyer now. Maybe I’ll say you promised me a new laptop!” At which point they put me on hold for 20 minutes and took the rebate amount off my bill. I HATE bullies who rely on intimidation tactics to scare you into hopelessness. Thank goodness I’ve worked with a lot of lawyers in the past. 😉

    I’ve rarely dealt with a more dishonest, useless company. How many time have we noticed that the companies who rely on garbage stereotypes in ads are usually the ones that put out garbage product? Not only does someone need to put these fuckers out of business once and for all, I think management should be put to work in a factory in China.

  4. Adam Freeman says

    I miss Cingular. Cingular was a good company. Then AT&T bought and things kept getting worse and worse every month.

  5. Gregory Nicholas says

    I HOPE att marketing professionals DIE – by way of slow & painful – for these commercials.. i don’t know why the stereotypical nagging wife/mother is so effing prevalent in tv commercials – they are not funny and obviously far from innovative

  6. sbg says

    Not only is she nagging, but she’s also the one relied upon to put forth the message AT&T wants you to remember. I think we’re supposed to think the men in the family are all dolts (another problematic message), but it still seems extremely bizarre to me this is how they have chosen to pimp this particular feature for their product. It’s bad from so many angles.

  7. rmy says

    I’ve only seen the AT&T car commercial, and I didn’t understand it at all–the orange “chip” the mother is holding, the long “look” she gives her son at the end (and it looks like she’s about to cry). Now that I’ve seen these (and a couple of others), I think I understand them better. It seems the first few commercial are all about setting the mother up–she’s annoying, she nags, etc. But in the car commercial, her message finally hits her kid–he understands that rolling over the minutes saves money.

    Whoever did the ads knew exactly what they were were doing. Set the mother up as a nag, then at the end show that she’s the one trying to keep the family going in difficult economic times, and have the kids finally “get it”. Isn’t that the way it often is in real life?

  8. sbg says

    I actually see no cognition of such in the car commercial, but more power to you for this interpretation. Except I don’t think the ends particularly justifies the means, even if your interpretation is dead on.


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