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The Power of the Pink Dress

Joe Braue
iBraue
Joe Braue
6/30/2011

2:15 PM -- It was the pink dress that, arguably, launched AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T)'s planned US$39 billion acquisition of T-Mobile US Inc. . (See AT&T to Buy T-Mobile USA for $39B.)

And now even tiny telecom box-makers are using it to stand out in what is usually a gray telecom marketing industry.

First, though, the original pink dress, which was worn by 23-year-old Canadian model Carly Foulkes in the T-Mobile USA ad that makes fun of AT&T's network. You could argue it was Ms. Foulkes and her dress as much as anything else that drove AT&T to make its M&A move.

Not just to get that critical ad off the air, of course. T-Mobile USA's last quarterly financial report before AT&T pounced may have been bleak, but there was one exception -- the number of customers using smartphones on T-Mobile USA's network jumped by more than 1 million in the fourth quarter of 2010, taking the total to more than 8.2 million customers.

And it's not beyond reason to claim that uptick was related to T-Mobile USA's advertising campaign. Paul Singh, CEO of SocialNuggets, which tracks and analyzes mentions of tech products and companies on social networks to deliver market intelligence, noted that the advert had a real impact, especially in the first month it ran.

But do you need to be a multibillion-dollar operator to benefit from the power of the pink dress? Craig Easley, VP of marketing and product management for Accedian , doesn’t think so. Easley believes the same marketing tactic can be used to promote the Montreal-based service assurance company’s network interface devices (NIDs).

A pink dress can get carriers to buy NIDs?

Well, Easley wants to ride the wide recognition of the T-Mobile ad, with its focus on that carrier's high-performance HSPA+ network. "For T-Mobile, it's about high performance from the handset to the tower, but for Accedian it's about pushing that performance through to the central office."

So Easley employed a different Canadian model, Raphaelle Cote Leduc, who is working as a waitress in Quebec, to launch his program. You can see Ms. Cote Leduc over Easley's shoulder in this LRTV custom video.

He even created a "story of the photo shoot" video.

So can models in pink dresses help sell more NIDs? Easley hopes so. Will it prompt a bigger competitor to buy Accedian, just like AT&T ponied up for T-Mobile USA? Easley can only wish.

— Joe Braue, Group Director and SVP, Light Reading

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shygye75
shygye75
12/5/2012 | 5:00:41 PM
re: The Power of the Pink Dress


It's great to see such effort being put into idea recycling. Maybe the next step is to get a Guy Fieri look-alike to don the pink dress and have a humorous encounter involving an iguana (like a gecko, only bigger)  with a Betty White look-alike. The possibilities are limited only by the imagination of the idea borrowers.

DCITDave
DCITDave
12/5/2012 | 5:00:22 PM
re: The Power of the Pink Dress


I'd argue that the T-Mobile dress ads worked because T-Mobile had no real identity in the marketplace. The name stood for nothing. It didn't compete well on price, coverage, device exclusivity or any of the main things consumers care about. So in that void, an engaging ad campaign gives us something to talk about coincidental to market dynamics that have been going on for decades (the big get bigger, the small get weaker, the consumer pays more for less, etc.) Did an ad drive a multi-billion $$ acquisition? I doubt it.


re: "You could argue it was Ms. Foulkes and her dress as much as anything else that drove AT&T to make its M&A move."

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