AT&T Issue Briefs

Our issue briefs provide additional details on topics identified as most important by our stakeholders. View all the issue briefs on the Reporting Library for a comprehensive overview or choose an issue in the drop-down menu.

 


Stakeholder Engagement Topics
Responsible marketing, advertising & offer transparency

Stakeholder Engagement Topics
Responsible marketing, advertising & offer transparency

 

 

Our Position

 

We believe a brand that puts people first must develop marketing messages, offers and advertising for products and services that earn and maintain customers’ trust. Responsible marketing should represent a diverse and inclusive audience and should contain clear, concise and accurate content.


 

 

Our Action

As one of the largest advertisers in the U.S., AT&T strives to create marketing messages that accurately represent society as well as our products and services.

As stated in the AT&T Code of Business Conduct, we succeed in the marketplace by competing aggressively but fairly. Our products and services stand on their own merits. We do not misrepresent the characteristics of our products and services, and we do not deceive our customers or engage in any other unfair practices. AT&T’s Global Marketing Officer oversees worldwide corporate brand marketing for AT&T Inc., including advertising, corporate communications, events and sponsorships.

At WarnerMedia, our Chief Enterprise Inclusion Officer and head of marketing & communications has responsibility for global marketing and communications, including branding. 1 1 In May 2021, we entered into an agreement to combine our WarnerMedia segment, subject to certain exceptions, with a subsidiary of Discovery, Inc. The transaction is subject to approval by Discovery shareholders and customary closing conditions, including receipt of regulatory approvals. Additionally, our Executive Vice President and General Manager of HBO Max is responsible for the product, marketing, consumer engagement and operations of HBO Max. Xandr, WarnerMedia’s advertising business, has selling policies around selling media and digital advertising.
Consumer Marketing
AT&T’s consumer marketing organization, led by the Executive Vice President and General Manager of Mobility Marketing and the Executive Vice President and General Manager of Broadband and Voice Marketing, contributes to the creation of offers and pricing and is responsible for developing the go-to-market strategy for consumer services and products such as wireless connectivity and broadband internet delivered via AT&T fiber, while creating meaningful connections for customers through entertainment offerings like HBO Max, DIRECTV and AT&T TV. 2 2 In February 2021, we agreed to contribute our North America video business – including DIRECTV, AT&T TV and U-verse – to form a new company with TPG Capital. The transaction is pending customary closing conditions.

Our limited-time offers and marketing campaigns are designed to provide customers with differentiated options in the marketplace and to stimulate sales through unique and promotional discounts, pricing, features or add-ons. Our consumer marketing organization is focused on communicating our customer value proposition through the brand and demonstrating how we’re able to tailor and elevate customer experiences.

When creating new offers, AT&T’s consumer marketing and advertising organizations first ideate the offer’s messaging and positioning to create the most appealing campaign. We work with ad agencies that bring the offer’s value to life and collaborate with our brand and legal teams to ensure we are consistent with AT&T’s voice and position in the marketplace and in compliance with advertisement practices that protect consumers – including practices to eliminate deceptive advertising and minimize legal claims.

Throughout the process, we ensure that the advertising creative and value proposition messaging aligns with the offer and that the offer is clearly and plainly represented. Once finalized, the marketing strategy and offer details are communicated widely to all consumer-facing sales, direct marketing channels and customer service organizations, such as call center agents and representatives in our retail stores and authorized agent locations.

After an offer has gone to market, we incorporate feedback from our call center agents and retail associates, as well as critical analysis from our customer experience and business analytics teams, into decision-making for current and future offers. If needed, we adjust messaging for an active offer to ensure it is clear for customers and sales representatives.

Customers with questions or concerns can reach us online or at 800-331-0500. For more information, see our Terms of Service on our Legal Privacy Center.

Business Marketing

In AT&T’s business marketing organization, our product marketing, channel marketing and marketing communications teams work together to identify opportunities for new services and promotions that address the needs of business customers – whether local, national or global in scale. Services provided to business customers include mobility, wireline, fiber-based internet, 5G, networking services, security solutions, cloud-based offerings and Internet of Things solutions. Our Senior Vice President of Business Marketing leads AT&T’s business marketing and reports to the CEO of AT&T Business, a part of AT&T Communications.

We align the process for creation of new offers, advertising and offer launch to the practices of our consumer marketing organization. However, with regard to business marketing, certain channel marketing and enterprise sales organizations are organized by vertical segments. This enables teams to gain a deep understanding of the unique needs of industries such as healthcare, transportation, finance, retail, education, state and local government, and sports and entertainment.

For more details on our business offers and services, including industry-specific solutions, visit AT&T Business. Business customers with questions or concerns can reach us at AT&T Business Support.

Gender Equality Measures

AT&T’s overall marketing approach begins with the diverse composition of our teams. The AT&T Inclusion Playbook informs a nonbiased approach to creating content and respects the entire spectrum of diversity – including gender and cultures – as well as the LGBTQ+ population, veterans and those with accessibility needs. The Inclusion Playbook provides thought starters to help content creation teams accurately portray people and eliminate the inclusion gap in AT&T content. Designed as a tool for decreasing bias in content and increasing innovation in ad copy testing, this program was recognized by the Association of National Advertisers (ANA) for leading positive change.

We surpassed the ANA #SeeHer initiative’s 2020 goal to increase the accurate portrayal of women and girls in media by 20% in 2018 – 2 years early – and AT&T committed to #SeeHer’s new 2025 and 2030 goals. In 2019 our measured advertising surpassed #SeeHer’s 2025 milestone. And, as of October of 2020, 88% of our total 2020 marketing accurately portrayed women and girls, surpassing #SeeHer’s 2030 goal of 80%.

This year, we launched a tag in our social media publishing tool to ensure we’re considering diversity and representation on our social channels. The tool tracks share of gender as well as diversity and inclusion representation in every post published, giving AT&T data-driven insight into our progress toward our commitment to producing diverse and representative content.

AT&T Advertising also encourages our ad agencies to cast and hire diverse talent both in front of and behind the camera. During creative development and production, we work to ensure our communications resonate with our diverse consumer group. For example, the AT&T Fiber advertising team meets with the Black Marketing & Advertising Council monthly to review and incorporate the council’s feedback on creative content. Through Q3 2020, AT&T allocated $145 million in advertising spend to ads featuring diverse talent – and the marketing intelligence organization Numerator rated us No. 1 for using diverse talent in ads.

Read more on our AT&T Diversity & Inclusion website.

Customer Data Privacy

Data helps us create more reliable products and services, improve security and detect fraud, and provide customers with customized offers. Customers also count on AT&T to protect their information and respect their privacy. We take this responsibility seriously and work hard to maintain customers’ trust.

We provide our customers with information – and choices – about how their data might be used. We publicly post privacy policies to educate consumers on the information we collect through our products and services and our policies for obtaining proper consent to use such information. This includes compliance with regional consumer privacy regulations like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in Europe and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). To help customers understand our practices, we describe our technology and services in simple terms and provide a consolidated resource for privacy policies, rights and questions at the Privacy Center, WarnerMedia Privacy Center, Warner Bros. Privacy Center and Xander Privacy Center. The Privacy Centers include details on the types of information collected; how information is collected, used and shared within the companies and third-parties; how it is secured; and how long it is kept.

WarnerMedia’s advertising unit, Xandr, provides marketers with advertising solutions enhanced with valuable customer insights from AT&T’s TV, mobile and broadband services – combined with an extensive ad inventory, including WarnerMedia’s cable networks and premium content from third-party media brands. As part of our efforts to boost transparency, we offer an Online Advertising & Ad Tech Glossary to educate consumers on the advertising industry’s many technical terms. We ensure the data Xandr collects does not reflect names, email addresses or other information that directly identifies a user. And Xandr never sells data from our platform pertaining to any individual that we know is a minor. For more information, see our Privacy issue brief.

Customers can restrict AT&T’s use of their Customer Proprietary Network Information (CPNI) for the purposes of receiving offers about new types of products and services from the AT&T family of companies. For more information, visit the Customer Proprietary Network Information website.

Customers also have the ability to manage how they want to be contacted by AT&T, including opting out of telemarketing calls and emails. When building marketing campaigns, AT&T honors a consumer’s request to be added to AT&T’s internal Do Not Call list – in addition to the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) National Do Not Call list and various state Do Not Call lists, as appropriate. For more information, visit the National Do Not Call Registry.

Third-Party Advertising in our Productions

Our approach to product responsibility also focuses on the content we create. We have depiction policies that govern aspects of feature films such as tobacco use, particularly for content of interest to younger audiences. For example, in 2019, guided by consumer warnings from groups such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, American Medical Association and American Lung Association, WarnerMedia discontinued advertising from tobacco and e-cigarette companies on our basic cable channels, such as TNT and TBS.

Periodically, third-party branded products and/or services may appear or be referenced in WarnerMedia productions. In some cases, they are added by the content creators as organic set elements relevant to the environment or storyline. This brand inclusion generally does not involve compensation or consideration from the brand. In other instances, either the content creator or WarnerMedia may enter into a brand partnership with an advertiser and incorporate a product and/or service within a relevant storyline. In certain instances, these brand placements may be part of a larger media purchase. When done thoughtfully, the inclusion of brands in content can benefit multiple parties:

  • The media/content creator – as a revenue source, and mechanism for reducing the overall cost of production
  • The audience – by enhancing content and offering advertising that is relevant and less intrusive
  • The advertiser – by developing an environment for their ad that drives deeper awareness and engagement with their product and/or service

Public Service Announcements

AT&T strives to use our platforms to increase awareness of important causes. Through WarnerMedia, DIRECTV and WarnerMedia’s advertising arm, Xandr, we donate airtime and advertising inventory to qualifying non-profit and government organizations for public service announcements. Our commitment to closing the opportunity divide also includes the Xandr Tech for Good Public Service Announcement Program, which helps non-profits advance through free advertisements. When ad space is unfilled, Xandr shows public service announcements from participating non-profits rather than letting that space go to waste. This helps non-profits increase their reach by hundreds of thousands and generate site visitors, donations and volunteers. Read more in our Media Pluralism, Ethics & Journalistic Integrity issue brief.