Back in December, T-Mobile uploaded a two minute-long short to its YouTube channel, in the style of classic stop-motion specials like Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. It mostly consists of T-Mobile CEO John Legere telling a story about how he saved the US wireless industry from the “abominable carriers.” It’s a mostly harmless video, but AT&T has decided to file a complaint with the National Advertising Division over it.
The ad only has 11,000 views on YouTube, and an additional 2.5 million views on Twitter, so the video’s impact wasn’t massive in the first place. AT&T alleges the ad, “made unsubstantiated, false, and misleading claims, and disparages and denigrates AT&T.”
The carrier is only explicitly mentioned on images of newspapers, with the headlines “Here’s another way AT&T is screwing over its customers” (referencing this 2015 article by Gizmodo) and “AT&T customer service horror story” (referencing this 2010 CNET post). Later in the video, AT&T and Verizon are depicted as a two-headed “major miser,” with the AT&T half wearing a striped shirt resembling the company logo.
In response to the complaint, T-Mobile said the ad made no claims about present business practices and did not represent the kind of advertising NAD was designed to review. The carrier asked NAD to close the case, but the organization declined. NAD said the video compares T-Mobile’s service to its competitors, references AT&T (as mentioned above), and makes the types of comparative claims often reviewed by the organization.
AT&T’s claim has now been deferred to the FTC and FCC for further review. Even though it’s ridiculous that A&T is taking offensive over a video that has already faded out of the public eye, I can see their point of view. As with most T-Mobile advertisements, the video focuses on the common fees, taxes, and limits that other carriers often employ. However, T-Mobile itself has been guilty of that on numerous occasions, so Legere claiming that T-Mobile doesn’t engage in that behavior isn’t entirely true.
Legal arguments aside, AT&T filing the complaint is only drawing more attention to the video. Not the best strategy, guys.