AT&T “Blanket”

Very soothing to the ear and eye, “Blanket” is the latest spot in AT&T’s massive rebranding campaign to take the aesthetic high road in the category while suggesting, via BBDO, to “Rethink possible.” It also rethinks the down-and-dirty, tit-for-tat war the company was immersed in until recently with Verizon,  and most viewers will welcome the reprieve. But while dropping Luke Wilson for some high-minded visuals is a relief and does suggest a leadership position, disgruntled AT&T customers would probably rather hear about dropped calls and what the company is doing to fix them. The spot shows orange fabric covering landmarks in the U.S. from sea to shining sea. The unfurling (partially real, partially CGI) is dramatic and beautiful, and the music is meditative and moving. The spot ends with an announcer telling us that AT&T covers  “97 percent of all Americans,” which gives a feeling of unity, something notably missing in these fractured political times. But this particular execution seems a bit dated. Despite the fact that AT&T is bringing back its signature orange, the idea appears clearly borrowed from the work of the artist Christo, who covers buildings and signposts in fabric. His memorable project in Central Park in 2005, “The Gates,” was actually based on hanging panels of material in the same shade of orange throughout the grounds. (And he originally designed it in 1979.) While I’m a fan of some of the other spots in the series, in this case, the fabric of our lives has more to do with having a better customer experience than running on the beach under an orange gossamer tarp. –Barbara Lippert