Are those AT&T ads with Luke Wilson an example of a strawman argument?

I understand they are in response to the Verizon ads that showed that AT&T’s 3G coverage was much less than Verizon’s. However, the Luke Wilson ads aren’t talking about 3G coverage, but voice coverage, correct?

As a satisfied AT&T customer, I’d say yes; but I’d say it is more a fallacy of equivocation, by using a different meaning of the term “coverage.”

What the new AT&T commercials intend to show is that your phone still works all over the country - you just might have Edge instead of actual 3G coverage.

Here’s an article

Studies by AT&T showed that viewers didn’t pay particularly close attention to the Verizon map ads, and often thought they were in reference to cell coverage. They launched the Luke Wilson spots in an attempt to clear things up.

I don’t think they are particularly good examples of a strawman argument.

It is borderline, but I am leaning towards “yes”.

The Verizon ads are comparing 3G coverage between the two carriers. I don’t think AT&T is even trying to dispute that the map is an inaccurate reflection of 3G coverage.

AT&T is insisting (indirectly through the Luke Wilson ads and directly through a failed lawsuit) that Verizon is trying to say that AT&T has no coverage whatsoever in the areas that have no 3G coverage. The whole point of the ads seems to be to “set the record straight” regarding coverage.

I don’t believe Verizon was making that claim at all. It seems to me that the Luke Wilson ads are refuting a claim that was never made outside of AT&T’s imagination. Perhaps AT&T genuinely believes there will be confusion in the marketplace and people will be avoiding AT&T completely thinking they have no coverage, meaning they have to counter that perception with these ads. But they need to be careful here - at heart these ads are incredibly lame and extremely defensive.

Verizon has basically made AT&T put out an ad promising that you can actually use an AT&T phone in areas (not an ad saying their service is good, or their data is fast, just that it will basically work). Not only that, but they list giant metro areas as if that is an amazing thing (really, my national carrier will work in Atlanta, Georgia, wow!). If anything, they should sue themselves just in case they are sending the message that all you can do in these big metro areas is make calls (with no 3G service).

That is a big step backwards in my mind. Ads saying you can actually make calls in metro areas are something I would expect to see when cellular was first starting many years ago - it isn’t exactly advertising cutting edge technology. I give Verizon the win in this marketing battle - not only did they get to display their far superior 3G coverage map next to AT&T’s pathetic one, but they tricked AT&T into advertising as if they were living in 1999.

What cracks me up is AT&T’s marketing strategy seems to be ‘yeah we don’t have anywhere NEAR the coverage as our competition, but you can talk on the phone while surfing a limited internet!’

I won’t be surprised if that doesn’t work out for them.

If you eliminated strawman arguments, you’d eliminate 50% of all advertising.

IMHO, of course.

AT&T’s 3G network is faster than Verizon’s. You can’t surf the internet when you’re on a 1x-EVDO connection. I don’t quite grasp what you’re trying to say here. Do you know how their respective networks operate?

FWIW, Verizon claims 1x EVDO coverage is “3G.” 1x EVDO doesn’t support voice and data calls at the same time. Just like AT&T’s Edge. Verizon also claims 1x EVDO is a 3G technology, which is very technically true on its face, but 1x EVDO typically has download speeds of 400-600 kbps, quite comparable to the latest revision of Edge (EDGE-EVO).

Edge is also quite technically 3G, according to ITU’s definition.

Truth in advertising?

Just sayin’.

Verizon never said anything about the speed of AT&T’s network. They merely said that you get top speed on Verizon (whatever that is) in more locations than where you can get top speed on AT&T (whatever that is). Perfectly true.

AT&T is not refuting that point at all. They argue two things: we have plenty of coverage (true, but they’re comparing two different things; AT&T is talking about general cell phone coverage, while Verizon is talking about 3G coverage) and you can talk and surf at the same time. Both are legitimate sales points, but neither addresses the actual claim that Verizon made.