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Can AT&T's TV Spots Sell T-Shirts?

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NEW YORK AT&T is trying its hand at custom T-shirt sales with the digital extension of its "Where do you live?" campaign for its wireless service.

The company has linked up with online custom-product generator Zazzle for an Atmosphere BBDO-created Web site that invites visitors to construct their own make-believe, mash-up localities. This approach follows the theme of AT&T's Wes Anderson-directed TV spots in which characters call to and from various made-up places. The spots include locations like "Philawarepragicago" and "Virgicalimentoflagantonio."

At www.att.com/wheredoyoulive, users can enter up to three locations to mash up. The Zazzle-powered site creates a made-up term, then lets users customize it with pre-selected slogans and graphics. Once they're finished, visitors can buy T-shirts, coffee mugs, bags or stickers emblazoned with their mythical place and slogan. Zazzle's Web site then sells the souvenirs. Prices range from $3.95 for stickers to $17.95 for T-shirts.

But will customers not only take the time to design shirts but actually shell out money for them?

Apparently, yes. According to AT&T, the site has sold "thousands" of shirts since it went live a month ago. The main objective of the campaign, however, is to build engagement with users through a fun experience, said Wendy Clark, svp of advertising at AT&T.

The move is the latest attempt by advertisers and their agencies to extend popular branding campaigns via merchandising. MDC Partners' Crispin Porter + Bogusky has specialized in this tactic, developing branded videogames and King Halloween masks (among other items) for Burger King.

AT&T agency BBDO is promoting the site with a pair of 15-second spots running online. One clip shows a young man in a waiting room wearing a t-shirt reading "Massabamaconsin." The woman, after asking if he's from there, says, "I love that accent. Say trousers." Both spots direct viewers to the site to make their own products.