Richards Finds Fault

The Richards Group has fun taking a negative approach in new television advertising for AT&T’s broadband Internet and digital cable services that broke this month.

The humorous effort was likened to negative political ads by Richards creative group head Kevin Swisher, who noted the Dallas agency has produced its fair share of positive retail spots for AT&T. A suggestion from the Denver-based client, however, led Richards to highlight competitors’ technological deficiencies.

When the creative team looked into satellite technology, they discovered odd details, Swisher said. For example, where a house is located or the size of a tree can cause reception problems.

“Free Throw,” written by Chuck Stephenson, takes a swipe at satellite technology. In this seeming takeoff of Hoosiers, a high school basketball star misses a shot. The reason is revealed later, when the boy’s father apologizes for raising the height of the basket on their home court in order to install a satellite dish.

“Tree Trouble,” directed by John Adams of Area 51 in Los Angeles, shows a wife confronting her husband, who achieved the TV reception he desired by boring a three-foot hole through a venerable tree.

“Baby Videos” ridicules the limitations of the dial-up connections still used by a grandmother, who passes on the chance to download new pictures of her grandchild.

The 30-second commercials are airing on spot TV and cable in local markets.