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AT&T White Pages advertising marketing

The newest AT&T Yellow Pages appeared on my doorstep the other day.

At the front of the book, I noticed a full page promoting AT&T’s White Pages: “White Pages advertising complements your Yellow Pages advertising to get you results!”

This headline intrigued me: “High Usage”


“67% of consumers reference the White Pages on an average of 2.8 times per week.”


I searched for and found the source, alongside an asterisk in the smallest font on the page:

“Yellow and White Pages Usage Study, October 1999.”

Hmm. I wonder if White Pages usage has changed during the past 13 years?

Is This Legal?

AT&T’s declaration that “67% of consumers reference the White Pages on an average of 2.8 times per week” is a lie.

Does that mean AT&T is at risk of legal action by the Federal Trade Commission?

I dunno. But I’m guessing no, because the page is not identified as an advertisement. The claims are made by the publisher in what probably would be considered “editorial” content.

Editorial content can be erroneous, false, misleading, dishonest…and it’s none of the FTC’s business.

If my guess is correct, then:

1.  AT&T lied to the world.

2.  AT&T’s lie is immune to action by the FTC.

3.  AT&T should be ashamed of itself. “Don’t worry, we can’t be prosecuted” does not justify lying in your marketing.

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  • Art September 20, 2012, 8:37 am

    When Verizon ran commercials showing their 3G map had more coverage than AT&T’s, AT&T responded with commercials showing that their coverage was just fine — their *voice* coverage. Verizon wasn’t addressing voice coverage, they were talking about 3G! AT&T attempted to change the premise of the whole argument, because they knew Verizon had shown their 3G coverage correctly. Recently switched to Verizon, it works well for me.

  • Bob (Toms Lake) September 20, 2012, 3:34 pm

    A. T. & T. Obviously the letters stand for — Avoid Telling Truth.

  • jdcvr4 November 10, 2012, 4:54 pm

    Pacific Bell Directory & AT&T, Assisting The Underground Economy?
    What is an underground economy? “Underground economy” is a term that refers to those individuals and businesses that deal in cash and/or use other schemes to conceal their activities and their true tax liability from government licensing, regulatory, and taxing agencies. Underground economy is also referred to as tax evasion, tax fraud, cash pay, tax gap, payments under-the-table, and off-the-books.
    Pacific Bell Directory, a subsidiary of AT&T, proliferates advertisements supporting the underground economy in Los Angeles. Because AT&T claims no responsibility to screen advertisements. Hundreds of false, deceptive contractor ads are being published through their print and online directories. The underground economy cost the city and state millions of dollars. Consumers are getting ripped off, Senior Citizens are being taken advantage of, and legal companies loose business.
    The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) ,the Direct Marketing Association and the US Postal Inspection Service have industry guidelines for the screening of advertisements. The LocalSearch Association (a national yellow pages association) provides industry advertising specifications standards and guidelines. AT&T and Pacific Bell Directory say these industry standards and guidelines do not apply to them.
    AT&T and Pacific Bell Directory allow advertisements with unregistered/untraceable company names. The illegal advertisers also have hundreds of untraceable fake addresses. These fake addresses make the illegal companies look like local companies.
    I have a garage door company in burbank with a true physical location. Since 2008 I have had to compete with 80+ false advertisements that AT&T allowed in the Burbank book with local addresses. Currently my company must compete with 380 garage door companies listed by AT&T within 10 miles of my location. About 85% of these ads are false and 10 % are miss listed. That is 95% inaccurate and misleading. These are horrible advertising ethics and AT&T’s products cannot be trusted.
    Please feel free to post this complaint in any reviews or comments regarding at&t.


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