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AT&T looks for an image makeover

In a $200 million advertising campaign, the company aims to trade in its old Ma Bell look for one more suited to the Internet age.

    In a bid to shrug off its stodgy Ma Bell image, AT&T on Wednesday launched a $200 million advertising blitz targeted at home, business and government customers.

    In its business-focused ads, AT&T plans to give a high profile to its stature as a provider of networking services. The print campaign, for instance, will highlight areas such as security, voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and virtual private networks. The company said that its IP network carries over 1.2 petabytes, or 1.2 quadrillion bytes, of IP traffic a day.

    VoIP is a hot area in the telecommunications sector these days. Following the lead of a number of start-ups, AT&T and other traditional telephone companies have begun letting businesses and consumers place calls that travel over the Internet rather than traditional phone networks, at a greatly reduced cost.

    In its consumer campaign, AT&T will focus on bundled services, with combinations of local and international telephone calling, high-speed Internet access, and wireless service.

    "Most people have traditionally associated AT&T with leadership in the telecoms industry," AT&T Chairman David W. Dorman said in a statement. "Today's campaign is our boldest and most visible statement yet of the company's transformation from a telephone company to the industry's leading provider of communications services and networking solutions".

    The campaign, designed by Young and Rubicam, is the company's first major branding initiative since the spinoff of its wireless and cable units, AT&T said. The ads will appear online and also be spread widely across newspapers, billboards and television.