Alltel's being sued. Get it? | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, August 3, 2006

Alltel's being sued. Get it?

Posted By on Thu, Aug 3, 2006 at 9:14 AM

The Wall Street Journal today shares details about Alltel's latest advertising campaign, an unconventional approach that involves a fake class-action lawsuit.

In advertisements on hundreds of blogs, visitors are being encouraged to join a lawsuit against Alltel Corp. over a new discount-calling plan from the regional cellphone company. The plan, called My Circle, allows Alltel customers to designate up to 10 phone numbers that can be called for free, regardless of the cellphone carrier they're affiliated with.

"Have you been added to an Alltel My Circle without your consent? Join our class-action lawsuit and let our experience help to recover your losses," reads one version of the ad. ...

The ads link to a Web site for the People Against My Circle Foundation2 – also an Alltel creation – while another faux site3 carries play-by-play reports from the court battle. ...

While most of the ads play it relatively straight, the sites they link to are full of absurd details that give away the joke. Many of the ads feature Edward Maxwell Von Houten, a fictional attorney for the People Against My Circle Foundation, or PAMCF. The attorney's earlier courtroom wins supposedly include lobbying for greater dress-sock elasticity and suing his mother's obstetrician for giving him an "innie" belly button ("One day I calculated that over the course of my lifetime so far, I'd spent nearly 18 weeks cleaning lint out of my navel," he writes on PAMCF's Web site). He rails against My Circle, accusing Alltel of encouraging long, rambling calls among friends. ...

Even some of Alltel's top brass were fooled. Frank O'Mara, Alltel's executive vice president of marketing, saw one of the ads while reading a legal blog. "I called someone and said 'Are we really doing this?'" he says. "Turns out I approved it."

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