MediaOne. This is broadband. This is the way. This is.gone.
MediaOne Group Inc. disappeared as a brand Aug. 23, converting all of its logos and communications to that of its new parent, AT & T Broadband. Heavily promoted product names, such as "MediaOne Digital NexTV," have also been dropped in favor of AT & T Broadband's verbiage.
Rebranding is the final step following AT & T Corp.'s completion of the acquisition June 15.
It was no mean feat. According to the company, it meant swapping out the logos on 6,500 fleet vehicles, 5,500 employee uniforms, 370 building signs and 4.7 million customer bills. About 14,000 employee e-mail addresses will be migrated from @mediaone.com to @broadband.att.com. The company has also been hard at work with telephone-directory publishers to get about 300 directory listings changed.
"We have been working on this since last January," Northeast regional director of marketing services Mark O'Day said.
It might have been harder with no experience in rebranding. But MediaOne has only been around three-and-a-half years. Several employees who helped to change the company from Continental Cablevision Inc. to MediaOne are still on board.
After the Continental conversion, MediaOne spent a lot of money building its brand in its major markets, which include Los Angeles; Atlanta; Boston; Cleveland; Jacksonville and south Florida; Richmond, Va.; and St. Paul, Minn.
The MediaOne brand won't disappear completely for a while, though. Customer-care personnel will continue to use both the AT & T Broadband and MediaOne names through the end of the year to mitigate customer confusion.
Although MediaOne executives are proud of the brand they built-and said they helped to push the term "broadband" into technology discourse and, by extension, onto their AT & T unit-the latest brand transition hasn't been as hard as they thought.
Part of their branding lives on in the divisional name of the parent, and "AT & T has welcomed us with open arms," said Teresa Elder, formerly a MediaOne senior vice president and now president of AT & T Broadband West.
In Los Angeles, the rebrand will occur in a particularly noisy market. GTE Corp. is aggressively promoting its new Verizon Communications label, and smaller telecommunications firms are trying to stake their claims.
But focus groups showed that consumers pay attention to the AT & T name, executives said, which will help the rebranding effort to cut through the clutter.
In the West, AT & T Broadband will even take on Pacific Bell and its popular "Web hog" ads. The telco has been running a spot for months depicting a neighborhood in chaos because cable-modem subscribers are fighting each other to get on the pipe.
Atlanta, too, faces tough competition not only from direct-broadcast satellite providers, but also from BellSouth Corp., which is already in the market and which also plans to add a satellite service of its own in the next six to 12 months, Atlanta regional senior vice president Steve White said.
Each of the former Media-One clusters held conversion events for employees last week. In Los Angeles, four different shifts were transported to the Wilshire Theater for a Tonight Show-type talk show with musical entertainment and prizes. A carnival was also held for workers and their families.
On the work side, 2,300 Western regional employees went through one-and-a-half-hour retraining sessions during the rebranding week, said Debi Picciolo, senior vice president, Western region.
In the MSO's largest market, Boston, management sent AT & T-branded golf shirts to each of the region's employees last Wednesday. The company was able to deliver shirts in the correct sizes because it had employees' uniform sizes on file, regional manager of communication Jennifer Khoury said.
The system also held employee events such as breakfasts or barbecues wherever possible, and had cakes and flowers sent to each of the region's 200 offices.
In Atlanta, executives at the director and vice-president level accompanied field technicians on their rounds last Thursday, greeting consumers and informing them about the brand change, White said. The next day, White and other executives were set to dress in baseball uniforms and visit AT & T Broadband offices around the region to remind employees, "It's a whole new ballgame."
To help promote the name change to subscribers, the Atlanta division sent postcards and began a television campaign last week that broke away from the standard corporate commercials. Instead, the 16 spots open with White introducing one of the regional system's employees, who were nominated by their supervisors to appear on TV.
The Boston system sent letters to each of its customers last week notifying them of the name change, backed by a three-week television and newspaper ad campaign.
It also plans to reinforce the AT & T brand with local community events, such as a promotion at the opening game of the New England Patriots' National Football League season Sept. 3. At the game, the operator will make a cash donation to the local Boys & Girls Club and hand out blue-and-white AT & T pom-poms to fans.
The Northeast region has also unveiled its new AT & T Broadband van-a large truck equipped to bring live demos of the company's digital-cable, high-speed-data and telephony services to any area equipped with the operator's cable service.
The system hopes to see a 10 percent to 20 percent lift in local telephone service due to the strength of the AT & T brand, Northeast vice president of sales and marketing Randy Weddell said.
On Sept. 1, the system will diversify its local telephone packaging and pricing, with a lower-cost local phone line that offers call waiting and caller ID for $19.25 per month.
Weddell also thinks the AT & T brand will help to tip the balance in favor of the MSO when consumers are considering bundles from overbuilder RCN Corp.
In Atlanta, White predicted that AT & T's local phone service-which MediaOne launched more than two years ago-would double its subscriber base by the end of the year, then double that number again by the end of next year.
"We expect a lot from the brand name," he said.
The new name has already helped to attract new employees. White noted that since the system recently rebranded its help-wanted ads to AT & T, it has seen a 30 percent increase in the number of resumes brought in.
White said he expects the system's Road Runner high-speed-data service to be rebranded as AT & T@Home within the next 12 months.
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