Judge Denies ATandT Request to Bump Verizon Ads

AT&T's request that Verizon pull its five "There's a Map for That" ads has been denied, though attorneys will have another shot to argue their case. In the meantime, AT&T has aired a new ad of its own, starring not misfit toys but actor Luke Wilson.

A federal judge in Atlanta has denied AT&T's request that competitor Verizon Wireless be made to pull its series of "There's a Map for That" advertisements, according to a Nov. 18 report from the Associated Press.

AP reports that the judge has scheduled a Dec. 16 hearing, in which attorneys for AT&T will have another chance to argue their case.

AT&T believes that the Verizon ads, which show 3G coverage maps for both carriers, are potentially misleading to customers, who may mistakenly think that AT&T offers no coverage in non-3G coverage areas. In the suit it filed against Verizon on Nov. 3, AT&T attorneys stated, "Verizon has stepped over the line of legitimate comparative advertising."

Verizon responded, days later, with a 53-page memorandum that stated, "AT&T did not file this lawsuit because Verizon's -There's a Map for That' advertisements are untrue. AT&T sued because Verizon's ads are true and the truth hurts."

The Verizon response went on to state that AT&T has invested tens of millions of dollars in its 3G network, while Verizon has invested billions of dollars since 2004 and now has a network that "covers five times more of the United States than AT&T's 3G network."

Wanting to make sure consumers are clear about its offerings, AT&T posted a letter on its site, describing its networks and coverage areas, which it said "reaches 303 million people-or 97 percent of the U.S. population, where they live and work."

Additionally, in a seemingly quick effort to shore up public confidence-which one study showed to be waning-on Nov. 18 AT&T launched a new television commercial of its own, starring actor Luke Wilson, of "Old School" and "Anchor Man" fame.

In the commercial, Wilson-against an empty warehouse backdrop, and with an orange magnetic board with a checklist-repeats the central points of AT&T's Website letter: "Who has the nation's fastest 3G network?" Wilson asks. "Which network lets you talk and surf the Web at the same time?" "The most popular smartphones? Access to over 100,000 apps?" The answer, of course, is AT&T.

The "zinger"-or really lack of a zinger, hinting at how quickly the ad was likely made-is that Verizon also earns a checked box, for having a "name that starts with the letter V."

Ken Hyers, a senior analyst with Technology Business Research, says the Verizon ads are certainly modifying public perception.

"AT&T is definitely concerned by the impressions being created by the Verizon ads, and they're doing everything they can to put a stop to them," he told eWEEK. "Though as it turns out, there's not a whole lot they can do about them."

Noting that AT&T will have a second shot to argue its case, Hyers added, "For now, they're just going to have to endure them."