AT&T to Give Go-Ahead to New Y&R, FCB Work

AT&T’s new corporate-image campaign shakes off its 20th-century association with voice-based services and embraces the array of high-tech offerings more identified with 21st-century technology, according to sources.

Scheduled to break during the Olympic games in September, the TV and print effort is from roster shops Young & Rubicam and FCB Worldwide, respectively.

The spots feature an animated AT&T logo that, in one ad, “ping-pongs” onscreen to show the speed of broadband; in another, the logo morphs into abstract designs to illustrate AT&T’s “boundless” offerings, a source said.

FCB’s 20 print executions in-clude concepts such as “AT&T broadband makes a cubicle feel so much bigger” and “Now your local school can be just like Harvard without the ivy.”

The work tries to show that the Basking Ridge, N.J., client’s “old way of thinking is gone,” a source said, and uses Y&R’s new “Boundless” themeline for the entire campaign.

“In the 21st century, AT&T is betting the store on Internet protocols,” the executive said. “The ads convey a freedom from telephone poles. A freedom from wires.”

Agency and cli-ent officials declined comment.

Client executives are expected to give final approval this week on the 8-12 TV spots now in production and the 20 print executions. Broadcast spending is estimated at $50 million. Print spending could not be determined.

Y&R and FCB are scrambling to complete the ads in time for the Olympics, sources said. The campaign does not have an Olympics theme because AT&T hopes to use it after the games are over, a source noted.

AT&T’s prior corporate-image campaign was tagged, “AT&T, it’s all within your reach.” TV spots by Y&R included an ad showing a mother taking her daughters to the beach instead of going to the office. The tack emphasized the client’s voice and high-tech services.

Separately, the first round of pitches for AT&T’s business-to-business account are set for the second week in September, sources said.

Y&R, FCB and roster shop Schifino Lee in Tampa, Fla., are contenders for the account, worth up to $100 million. A decision is expected by the end of September.