Alltel's marketing ploy: My Circle billboards defaced

We reported earlier this week about Alltel's aggressive marketing push against its competitors. Today, Alltel issued a fake press release about people vandalizing its billboards that carry advertisements for the My Circle calling plan. The billboards feature those faux sales guys from Alltel's competitors who come together to complain about Alltel's My Circle plan, which allows customers to make unlimited calls to up to 10 wireless or wireline numbers from any operator. Alltel said billboards in Phoenix, Charlotte, Raleigh, Tampa and Little Rock were collectively defaced with the word "Don't" in orange paint above the description of the brand's My Circle value proposition--"Call anyone on any network for free." Each billboard also shows Alltel's sales guy, "Chad," with various graffiti including mustaches, eye patches, horns and fangs. The press release actually sounds quite believable until the part near the end that says: "Unconfirmed reports from eyewitnesses in Charlotte, Raleigh and Tampa claim that individuals in pink, yellow, red and orange polo shirts were spotted atop the billboards early this morning. Similar reports were made yesterday in Little Rock and Phoenix." Alltel's advertisements feature these polo-wearing sales guys to represent nationwide competitors. An Alltel spokesman said the release represents an extension of the "Sales Guys" marketing efforts.

The ploy may be almost as confusing as another marketing scheme for My Circle last month. The operator ran satirical advertisements on hundreds of blogs that encouraged visitors to join a class-action lawsuit against Alltel. The ads linked to an Alltel-created Web site for the People Against My Circle Foundation. The ad was too smart for a lot of people.

For more about Alltel's My Circle marketing campaign:
- check out this release (sub. req.)