AT&T Sues Verizon Over 'There's A Map For That' Ad Campaign

from the doesn't-like-the-maps dept

Recently, Verizon came up with a rather clever ad campaign, mocking the iPhone ads that claim “there’s an app for that” with ads that showcase Verizon’s wider 3G footprint, claiming “there’s a map for that,” and showing the two services’ 3G coverage maps side by side:

It does a nice job poking fun at one of AT&T’s weaker points: its mobile network infrastructure. But apparently, AT&T is not happy with the ad campaign and has sued Verizon over those ads, claiming that it uses an unfair comparison. That’s because the maps only show 3G coverage, and Verizon has significantly greater 3G coverage. However, AT&T feels that the map showing its coverage implies, falsely, that AT&T has no coverage outside of its 3G coverage areas. While you can see why AT&T would make this complaint, it does make you wonder if it’s really worth the effort to sue. All it’s really doing is attracting a lot more attention to the original ad, which does accurately state that it’s talking about 3G coverage, not overall coverage, though you can see why some people might not realize that AT&T’s network also includes non-3G areas.

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Companies: at&t, verizon

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Comments on “AT&T Sues Verizon Over 'There's A Map For That' Ad Campaign”

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53 Comments
Brad Hubbard (profile) says:

Should get tossed...probably won't

AT&T has a bad history with these commercials. A while back, I recall them suing Verizon over the claim “Fewest dropped calls”, and Sprint over “Best call quality” – claiming these were unfair comparisons, or something similar. Then, when they lost in court, they got very quiet about it for a while.

So AT&T sells “coverage” – which is actually better than VZW, and Verizon sells “Speed and 3G density” – which is better than AT&T. All it does is signal to the public that Verizon is probably right, and AT&T is scared.

I hope Verizon wins, then runs an add clarifying that a judge agreed that AT&T’s 3G coverage is only 20% of Verizon’s. Put a little cost on AT&T’s plate.

John Doe says:

People need a thicker skin...

…and better 3G network coverage. ๐Ÿ™‚ I thought the ad was funny and I was not confused by it. I knew they were talking about 3G coverage only as they plainly state it in their ad. I am with Scarr above, Verizon should not be held accountable if people don’t know the difference, only if they made a false claim which they did not.

Oh, and AT&T should also have to pay Verizon’s court costs when AT&T loses this battle. But alas, the courts don’t work that way.

Verve (profile) says:

Re: People need a thicker skin...

But remember that you’re a more educated consumer… you understand the distinction between 3G and non-3G technologies and what that ad is actually saying.

Verizon is banking on the average consumer seeing the two maps, and going … ZOMG, AT&T has no coverage!!! and switching providers based on gut reaction.

tubes says:

Re: AT&T must be feeling the heat...

And they should be scared. The iPhone will be old news in a few days. I have the G1 & while I do love the phone (I should say the software, phone is too slow & T-Mobile’s 3G coverage sucks). I can imagine how awesome Android 2.0 will be on Verizon’s 3G network with the VCast. Just as long as Verizon doesn’t screw with the Android software. That’s the only thing I hate about Verizon they screw up all of the phones software & put their garbage on it.

Anonymous Coward says:

Verizon shooting over the bow

Frankly, Verizon isn’t usually this forthcoming in it’s ads.

They didn’t even have the Test Guy in the ad, or mention their 70M users in the ad.

In all actuality, it’s probably that Verizon’s own tests show that someone has else has grown significantly more square mile 3G coverage than AT&T and are just trying to be nice. The lawsuit will allow Verizon to show under oath, in court, that AT&T isn’t the #2 network, but perhaps now they rank #3 or #4.

Verizon didn’t become #1 by acquiring companies and being stupid.

dac says:

Why sue?

I have AT&T, and it’s funny that they are crying about Verizon showing the 3G map comparison, because it is actually quite accurate.

You can go to AT&Ts own website and see the SAME map. I haven’t checked it in a while, but it’s pretty close, right down to the blue color to designate 3G (I believe they use orange for standard coverage).

Verizon is trying more and more to push smartphones and high speed options like their video services and such, so why wouldn’t they spin the advertising to highlight a strong point?

I have a Curve, so 3G at the moment is of no use to me, but when I get an Onyx or any other 3G capable phone, I might feel the heat of that map if I travel.

minijedimaster (profile) says:

Although I agree that AT&T is stupid for suing over the ad, I call the ad bullshit. I don’t believe that Verizon has 3G coverage over 90%+ of its overall coverage area. I believe they’re just showing their overall data coverage map(ie including “edge” type areas) and comparing it to AT&T’s 3G only map. Notice if you go to Verizon’s site they provide no 3G only coverage map and the link they provide to the 3G comparison is just a copy of their tv ad. That and if you compare the maps they show in their tv ad their map shows way more than the “5x more coverage” than AT&T’s. Just my initial thoughts from when I saw the ad myself.

minijedimaster (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

So, we are to imply that just because you cannot navigate their website that they’re lying? Try again.

No, if you look at the link you provided which I obviously saw before I posted, is that it says NO WHERE on there “click here to see 3G coverage”. The only option they have is for “Broadband Coverage”. That could mean anything, including 2G etc. If you bothered to look at AT&T’s coverage maps, their map that includes all “broadband” data coverage including 2G etc looks almost identical to Verizon’s “broadband” coverage map.

So in answer to your question, no…we are not supposed to assume they’re lying because I can’t navigate a website, we’re supposed to assume they’re lying because you can’t read a website and just assume what they’re saying in print means what they imply in some stupid commercial.

On top of that if you read the fine print underneath the maps on Verizon’s site you get to this nice little tidbit:“Some of the coverage area includes networks run by other carriers; some of the coverage depicted is based on their information and public sources and we cannot ensure its accuracy.” So even if all of that coverage is 3G, it’s not even all their network.

The Infamous Joe (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re: Re:

Now, I may be wrong, but I think you’re confused because Verizon’s network is all 3G, and only part of AT&T’s is. So, Verizon’s 3G map and it’s coverage map is the same, and AT&T’s isn’t.

Furthermore, the non-colored-in parts of Verizon’s map would actually indicate no service, whereas AT&T’s only indicates no 3G coverage. (I think they claim 98% coverage in the US, or something like that.)

Personally, as a iPhone/AT&T user, I’d much rather AT&T focus their money less on lawsuits and more on upgrading their shitty (as shown accurately in the Verizon ad) 3G coverage.

Not that it matters much, if Verizon doesn’t mess up the Droid, I’ll be switching soon anyway.

Matt S (profile) says:

Re: attention

I think everyone is overlooking the idea that if AT&T thinks the commercial implies that they have no coverage other than (limited) 3G, they are getting what they want whether the lawsuit works or not. It seems clear that Verizon did nothing wrong, but AT&T wants to refocuse attention to the fact that they have both 3G and non-3G coverage, which is more than the commercial’s maps show.

Matt (profile) says:

Verizon lies

Verizon has no 3G coverage in Alaska. They do not operate in Alaska. Nonetheless, they show substantial coverage in Alaska in the ad. AT&T has extensive 3G coverage in Alaska. They used to buy it from someone else under partnership, but for more than a year they have been relying on their own capacity. Verizon’s coverage maps are inaccurate, and their portrayal of AT&T’s coverage map is also inaccurate.

In any event, both the Lanham Act and state-law “little Lanham Acts” protect against “deceptive” advertising, not just “false” advertising. Deception can include merely misleading statements. If an average, reasonable consumer might be mislead by the advertisement to believe that Verizon has more coverage than AT&T (not just 3G coverage,) than no amount of disclaimer by Verizon will cure the fact that it is misleading (if, indeed, that claim is not true). Among other things, the ad contrasts a Verizon user with an AT&T user, and suggests that the AT&T user is unable to use their mobile device at all because of the exceptionally poor coverage in an obvious urban area. This is just BS.

AT&T has a good case here. And we should be pleased that AT&T is suing for the right reason – to correct inaccuracies in the advertisement. They _could_ have sued on some whacked out infringement theory, asserting ownership or registration of “There’s an app for that” and asserting that Verizon was disparaging their famous mark.

Craig says:

Stupid

Maybe if AT&T spent more time putting up towers than filing lawsuits, they wouldn’t have to worry about this in the first place. I’m an iPhone switcher (to Blackberry) — not because of Apple, but because of AT&T. AT&T is pissed because Verizon is not showing AT&T’s edge network on the map — ok, that isn’t the point. No one wants to be on the EDGE network, ever. It’s certainly nothing to brag about.

Rick says:

AT&T is a bunch of blatant liars

Fact: almost all of Verizon’s coverage IS 3g
Fact: If you don’t get coverage on your phone on a Verizon network, its most likely your phone, as every antenna is designed different.
Fact: (maybe not as important) AT&T is IMPOSSIBLE to talk to on the phone. Useless and uncaring.
Fact: Verizon’s map BLATANTLY points out 3G COVERAGE! not overall coverage. AT&T is doing its infamous suing!
Fact: AT&T BLATANTLY lies about usage of phone and internet at the same time.
Fact: AT&T BLATANTLY lies about its “faster” 3G network.
if its faster its because less people use it, cause last i checked, 3G was 3G. Maybe they should focus on Sprints 4G next, and claim their 3G is actually 4G and its still faster…. FAIL!

I only hope to see AT&T fall flat on its face and get bought out. For years they have belittled their customers, making people think they have to fall in line with their claims. If AT&T wins it is because they have a better lawyer and the fact that our court system is VERY corrupt. Just look towards the Monsanto cases to point out the true meaning of corrupt.
AT&T should be put out of business for being complete incompetent lying bastards…. sorry for the harsh words, but I CAN’T STAND THEM!
The business is just like dealing with Chevy. Speaking of blatant liars.

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