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FINDING TRUE NORTH

strong Caregiver brand. While the industry has profoundly changed since divestiture (and continues to change daily), AT&T’s deep roots and its best leverage lie in the company’s being the telecom brand that most cares about, and cares for, its customers. Its original nickname was “Ma Bell.” During divestiture, recognizing that the customer was confused and anxious, AT&T set up an 800 number and ran an advertising campaign inviting people to call, with the tag line, “Let’s Talk.” AT&T’s telephone operators answered the phone by saying, “How can I help you?” and for a time, AT&T’s national advertising used that line as well. The operators were famous for going far beyond the call of duty to help their customers out, and stories were legion of operators saving children who called during emergencies. Even in the confusion of more recent times, when AT&T’s true Caregiver colors fly, it stands out from the pack. Such was the case during a phase of the national advertising campaign in which Caregiver AT&T intervened on the part of other archetypal characters. For example, in a spot featuring a superharried, superachieving Ruler mom, the Caregiver makes it possible for her to soften, relax, and temporarily revel in an Innocent world (Paradise Visited): She blows off a day at the office to take her little girls to the beach. Her AT&T cell phone helps make that possible, since she can call in later in the day. In another spot in the AT&T series, the Caregiver leads the orphan to shelter in a Redemption/Wandering Angel story structure very much like the one expressed in It’s a Wonderful Life. A young runaway in deep despair on a dark street corner finds his way home, both spiritually and literally, because of a mystical experience of hearing a beautiful woman singing “Amazing Grace” into the cold night air. The music triggers memories of his home, with his dad loading the Christmas tree onto the car. He goes to a pay phone and tells the operator that he wants to call home, but has no money. “Stay on the line. I can help you,” she says, as she puts him through to his stunned and tearful mother. The commercial, run during the Christmas season, ends with the words, “If you’re lost or stranded, we can help. Call this toll-free number. Greetings of the season. AT&T.” The number of calls to the line was so overwhelming that even AT&T’s powerful switchboards were overloaded. In yet another spot in the series, Caregiver AT&T enables the lonely and isolated Ex-

Profile for Lewis Lafontaine

Mack, Margaret - Hero and Outlaw Archetype  

Mack, Margaret - Hero and Outlaw Archetype  

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