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T-Mobile And Zeta-Jones Take Over

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By Sue Marek
September 12, 2002

Name changes certainly aren't novel in the wireless world. However, they typically come about when entities merge. Although T-Mobile is not a newly merged entity, some speculate it soon will be.

The graveyard of old brand names just received a new entrant: VoiceStream Wireless. Deutsche Telekom, which owns VoiceStream, last week launched a nationwide ad campaign to introduce its new T-Mobile moniker to the world. The German company is hoping the new name will resonate with global travelers who already are familiar with the company's T-Mobile service in Europe.

The VoiceStream name isn't the only thing to disappear -- so did actress Jamie Lee Curtis, the company's spokeswoman for the past five years. Welsh actress Catherine Zeta-Jones, whom the company believes will bring a worldly flair to the T-Mobile campaign, replaced Curtis.

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Voicemail from Zeta-Jones

Also noticeably absent from the new advertisements, which appeared in several large-market newspapers as well as on radio and television, was any mention of VoiceStream. According to T-Mobile spokesman Bryan Zidar, the company ran transitional advertising in August to let consumers know VoiceStream was becoming T-Mobile, and VoiceStream subscribers received bill inserts and other direct mail pieces notifying them of the change.

To emphasize the switch, last week the company sent recorded voicemail messages to their subscribers from Zeta-Jones reminding them of the name change.

'Get More from Life'

But the T-Mobile moniker isn't new to all VoiceStream markets. When the company expanded its service into California and Nevada in July, it debuted in those areas as T-Mobile rather than the existing VoiceStream brand. And though the name has changed, the "Get More" slogan remains intact in the new ads with Zeta-Jones showing consumers how they can use T-Mobile to "get more from life."

Name changes certainly aren't novel in the wireless world. However, they typically come about when entities merge, such as when Cingular Wireless and Verizon Wireless made their debuts. "Cingular was the marriage of SBC and BellSouth and Verizon was the marriage of many," says Ken Hyers, analyst with In-Stat/MDR, a sister company to Wireless Week. "Often a major name change indicates a significant change in the company. Maybe in this case the change is internal because VoiceStream is very focused on getting market share."

Merger Talk Circulating

Although T-Mobile isn't a newly merged entity, some speculate it soon will be. Reports have circulated that the company was involved in early discussions with both AT&T Wireless and Cingular.

But even if T-Mobile does merge and change its name again, Hyers says for now the company needs to act as an independent company and develop its presence in this country, particularly on the East Coast where the former VoiceStream name may not have resonated as strongly. "This isn't a bad strategy," Hyers says. "T-Mobile is trying to develop a presence in this country and be a real player."

Price Plan Tweaks

In conjunction with the name change, T-Mobile also made tweaks to its $39.99 rate plan in about 28 markets, including Philadelphia, Washington, D.C., and Atlanta. According to Zidar, the $39.99 rate plan now will offer 600 whenever minutes and unlimited weekend minutes in all markets.

Previously, some markets offered 500 whenever minutes and unlimited weekend minutes for that price plan. Zidar says the change was prompted by the company's desire to offer consistency with its price plans.

© 2002 Cahners Business Information. All rights reserved.
© 2002 NewsFactor Network. All rights reserved.

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