rolled over

Undoubtedly, if you’ve watched any of March Madness, you’ve seen this ad, featuring Dallas Mavericks owner and Shark Tank venture capitalist Mark Cuban with one of the myriad AT&T ad characters these days, store supervisor Lily. If you haven’t, well, there you go.

I saw this ad countless times during my basketball four-day weekend and never gave it much thought…until tonight.

The spot came on and, for whatever reason, I was paying closer attention to the conversation. Mark Cuban, a successful businessman steeped in the tech sector, mentions that his family consumes a lot of mobile data while on vacation. Lily counters with AT&T’s new Rollover Data feature, where unused data can be carried over into the next billing cycle.

So AT&T’s answer to someone who has built an empire out of savvy deals and negotiations is…to offer his family a plan that will fail his family once they go on vacation?

First, let’s get the least plausible thing out of the way: there’s no way Mark Cuban is going to be in an AT&T store unless it’s a stunt like his one-day job managing a Dairy Queen in 2002. Second, a billionaire isn’t going to be concerned with his cell bill; in all likelihood, he has a special plan with unlimited everything and no throttling, and if he doesn’t, overages aren’t going to break him like they would you or me. When do you think Mark Cuban last looked at a cell phone bill?

So Lily offered a Cuban a plan that underdelivers to with a feature that will likely leave his family stuck at the original data point after tearing through all that data on vacation. Or, per the AT&T website:

Rollover Data is a benefit that we’ve introduced with our Mobile Share Value plans where unused data from your monthly plan allowance rolls over for one billing period.

Example: If you have our 15GB AT&T Mobile Share Value plan and only use 10GB, you’ll roll over 5GB (your Rollover Data balance) to the next month for a total of 20GB to be used within the next month. There’s no cap on the amount of unused plan data within a given month that’s eligible for rollover. However, Rollover Data automatically expires after one billing period, and unused Rollover Data won’t carry over to the next month.

She offered a potential high value client a plan on which his family won’t be able to even, ahem, capitalize? There’s no stockpiling data, you must use that data next month or it’s gone! This is OK for Mark Cuban? This is OK for you or me? I’ve worked in capacities that have happened to put me in direct contact with very, very wealthy people. Clients should be treated well and with integrity, regardless of status. That said, elite clients get elite treatment: at the very least be clear and upfront with them! No angles? Really, Lily? Really, AT&T?

This ad manages to:

…mislead–there are angles, AT&T, your website even admits as much by adding the #legal on to the URL…or, you know, by having restrictions via terms and conditions in the first place;

…present Lily like any number of sleazebag mall kiosk dwellers who reek of Axe body spray and will yell at you across the corridor, promising nearly anything for a sale (or worse, presents her as someone who doesn’t know what she’s selling or doing: /doe-eyed pouty face ‘I don’t think I have any angles…’)

…make Mark Cuban look foolish. I’ve seen him tear apart any number of naive chumps or possible hucksters on Shark Tank trying to pull something similar. The man didn’t rack up $3B by making poor and uninformed business decisions that weren’t in his best interest. He’s not stupid, and to think he signed off on doing this is puzzling at best. Cuban isn’t getting compensated in Rollover Data features, that’s for sure.

The Lily ads aren’t bad, but whoever green-lit this one should seriously be reconsidered. Paying attention, and the point of a good commercial is to get the audience to do just that, may cost AT&T more than the cost of 30 seconds’ prime airtime over (…and over…and over…) in both reputation and revenue.


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