Ina Fried

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AT&T Says It Can Help Crush More Cars (And Sell More Crabs and Bread)

AT&T is set to kick off a new effort aimed at touting its wares to small and midsize businesses.

The campaign will kick off Wednesday night with the first set of television ads, which will appear on CBS’ “Undercover Boss” and NBC’s “America’s Got Talent,” before expanding to print and online later this year. The ads stress AT&T’s services, including mobile phones, apps and broadband, as a way for small shops to sell more stuff. In the TV spot, AT&T is shown helping a crab fisherman, a junkyard operator and a baker.

“I want to crush more cars,” says the junkyard operator, as vehicles are smashed in the background. AT&T said that the ads feature real customers, but declined to give out the names of the businesses or the individuals that appear in the ads.

AT&T didn’t put a figure on spending for the campaign, but characterized it as the biggest effort aimed at small businesses since SBC and AT&T combined in 2005 to form the present company.

The new ads are a follow-on to an effort targeted at large businesses that began in February. In conjunction with the new ads, AT&T is also training its in-store sales reps on small business matters and has doubled the number of small business consultants in an effort to position itself as Main Street friendly.

“Small and midsize businesses generate so many jobs in the U.S. and that is a source of growth,” AT&T Small Business Solutions Executive Vice President Cathy Martine said in a telephone interview. “We want to position AT&T as a company and partner of choice.”

Of course, it doesn’t hurt to pitch AT&T as friendly to Mom and Pop as the company seeks regulatory approval for its planned $39 billion takeover of T-Mobile USA. Earlier this week, AT&T lined up backing from a number of tech industry companies ranging from Facebook and Microsoft to several prominent venture capital firms.

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Just as the atom bomb was the weapon that was supposed to render war obsolete, the Internet seems like capitalism’s ultimate feat of self-destructive genius, an economic doomsday device rendering it impossible for anyone to ever make a profit off anything again. It’s especially hopeless for those whose work is easily digitized and accessed free of charge.

— Author Tim Kreider on not getting paid for one’s work