Ad of the Day: AT&T

Flash mobs don't always work out as planned

In the fiercely competitive mobile world, carriers all try to claim their 4G networks are better than those offered by competitors. AT&T, whose data speeds have been criticized in the past, wants to convince consumers its 4G service is faster than others in this new "Dance" spot from BBDO New York. The marketer uses an unexpected twist of the flash-mob meme that cleverly conveys that message about speed while offering a sly wink at the flash mob's cultural demise. A somber young guy, in trench coat with newspaper, stands in the middle of Grand Central, surrounded by similarly sullen, suited commuters. As the station clock strikes 12:00, he throws off his coat and breaks into cringe-making dance moves. The people around him look on in disgust. He slowly realizes he's dancing alone and pulls out his phone to discover the message he's been downloading has finally arrived—advising him that the "Flash Mob" event has been pushed back to 12:30. While the humorous execution is enough of a message for American consumers, advertising insiders might also see the spot as a send-up of the "Life's for Sharing" U.K. campaign for T-Mobile, the carrier that AT&T now wants to acquire (though didn't at the time of this ad's filming). Saatchi & Saatchi's iconic flash-mob dancing ad for T-Mobile, filmed at London's Liverpool Street station in 2009, quickly became a viral sensation that popularized the flash-mob phenomenon. Now AT&T's hapless lone dancer may be signaling its end—and that of T-Mobile.