At&T One Rate Paul Reiser Vs. Dial Around (Commercial, 1997)

Published on Jan. 17, 2011

A late 90's ad from AT&T trying to counter the business lost to "dial around" (10-10-) services. Phone service was changing and changing fast. TV ads were encouraging people to switch to alternate services or just to dial special 10-10-### codes before their call to place it with an alternat long distance service. All of this business was all at AT&T's expense because they previously owned the market for calling long distance. By this period, AT&T had started to bring out the big guns with many TV commercials, affordable celebrities and then finally 10-10- services of their own. Long distance was big business in the 80s and 90s, with the battle lines drawn first by trying to get people to switch carriers, then by offering "dial around" (10-10-) services for cheap calls and finally by offering 1-800 access and other 10-10- services targeting specific portions of the market. 1-800-COLLECT hit gold and then collect calling became a major focus of advertising, even though collect calling had been a rarity and near curiosity for most customers. The long distance industry had been a huge source of ad revenue for TV stations right up there with beer companies but shortly after this, all the angles had been played out and long distance became a low margin industry with little money or reason to advertise. Big long distance finally succumbed to nationwide free long distance (and free roaming) plans on cell phones starting with Sprint PCS' service in 1995. Far from a big business, long distance is now a cheap or free service thrown in as a kicker to all-in-one voice plans. This spot aired during the 5th game of the Baseball World Series on NBC on October 23rd, 1997.