AT&T pushes Cricket brand at millennials with new 'Family Guy' ad strategy

As the holiday shopping season kicks into high gear, it appears that AT&T (NYSE: T) is doing all it can to push its Cricket prepaid brand among millennials (Americans born between the early 1980s to the early 2000s). As reported by Adweek, Cricket Wireless will be the sole advertiser tonight on Turner's Adult Swim episode of Family Guy, a new advertising technique that Turner is offering to those brands that want to make an impression on its younger Adult Swim audience.

Turner's new advertising offering, dubbed "Beyond the :30," allows marketers to essentially splash their brand across a half-hour TV show. Tonight, AT&T's Cricket will present a 10-second introduction to the Family Guy show, and its logo will replace the Adult Swim logo on the bottom corner of viewers' TV screen for the entire duration of the episode. During the episode, Cricket's brand will be featured in a 10-second spot and again in a 90-second spot created and produced by Adult Swim. Cricket will then also broadcast its own 30-second ad. Cricket's takeover of Family Guy advertising will end with another custom 15-second ad just before the end of the show.

Cricket will also receive a branded Adult Swim website, adultswim.com/cricket, and a survey of the effectiveness of its ads.

"The Cricket brand is vibrant, youthful and animated, like Adult Swim content," said Janna Ducich, Cricket's CMO, in a statement. "To complement that synergy, our value proposition is attractive to cost-conscious millennials who are passionate fans of the network and also value authenticity from brands. 'Beyond the :30' infuses relevance and genuineness into our advertising in fun, cool and exciting ways. We innovate through simplicity at Cricket and we also want to be part of innovation in how companies talk to consumers."

The new ad strategy, provided by Turner Ad Sales, reflects both the changing nature of linear TV marketing -- which may be coming under pressure from growing interest in digital and Internet advertising -- as well as advertisers' desire to stand out and more effectively reach the valuable millennial demographic.

The presence of AT&T's Cricket in the launch of Turner's Beyond the :30 also likely reflects AT&T's efforts to raise the profile of its prepaid brand during the critical fourth-quarter holiday shopping season. The fourth quarter is generally the most important sales period for the nation's wireless carriers, and they typically engage in major sales and promotions in order to generate interest in their products. Indeed, just prior to the Thanksgiving holiday, Cricket launched a rewards program where customers can earn rewards by taking actions in a variety of different apps and signing up for Cricket services, and then redeem them for gift cards, the ability to enter sweepstakes and make charitable donations. And immediately following the holiday weekend, on so-called Cyber Monday, Cricket halved the cost of several popular Samsung smartphones, including the Galaxy S4 and Galaxy S6.

AT&T has made no secret of its desire to grow its Cricket brand. "But perhaps the biggest story in the quarter had to be our continued strength in premium prepaid. This has been a remarkable turnaround story for us. We added 466,000 prepaid voice subscribers in the quarter after losing subscribers in the year-ago third quarter. These subscriber gains came from both Cricket and our GoPhone products," AT&T's John Stephens said during the carrier's most recent quarterly conference call, according to a Seeking Alpha transcript of the event. "We are seeing Cricket deliver great ARPUs. In fact, the ARPU from Cricket smartphones net adds is nearly $10 more than our postpaid feature phone ARPU losses."

For more:
- see this Adweek article

Related articles:
TracFone's Straight Talk, AT&T's Cricket offer new discounts as smartphones top Black Friday shopping lists
Black Friday: T-Mobile gives $200 to Sprint switchers, while Verizon offers 1 GB 'gifts' for $10
AT&T's Cricket launches rewards program tied in part to using apps

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