Bell System Advertisements- Human Desire to Communicate With Others
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Bell System Advertisements
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N.W. Ayer, one of America's oldest advertising agencies, needed a creative approach to help AT&T soften its image in the face of growing concerns about AT&T's potential monopoly. So Ken D'Ambrosio helped develop the concept for a print and TV campaign that incorporated the now famous "Reach Out and Touch Someone" tag line. We can credit Marshall McLuhan for creating the tagline "Reach out and touch someone" for Ma Bell. This campaign was designed to soften AT&T's image and position the company as an indispensable element of everyday American life.

Michael Arlen devoted a book to the making of a 30-second commercial for [the Bell System] with the slogan "Reach out and touch someone".

"In thirty seconds, everybody notices everything" (Arlen, 1980: p. 211) stated Jerry Pfiffner, who was an executive vice-president of N.W. Ayer and leader of a Creative Group. They had designed the famous "Reach Out and Touch Someone" commercial advertising for AT&T's advertising campaign in 1979.  The intention was to get more people to make long distance calls. The first commercial debuted on Johnny Carson's The Tonight Show.

Let's start our stroll down memory lane with two multimedia (RealAudio) files of two commercials based on the "Reach Out" slogan of the Bell System from 1979 through 1983. 

"Reach Out.   Reach Out and Touch Someone"
To hear the audio track from this well-known commercial in the latter days of the Bell System, click HERE!
To see one of the other Reach Out commercial by the Bell System, click HERE!


AT&T's slogan, "Reach out and touch someone," became so famous after its launch in 1979 that AT&T Wireless began using it again in November 2003 when it started its new "Reach Out" campaign to replace the cryptic "mLife" ads of the prior two years.

"It's one of the great slogans of all advertising," said Neve Savage, vice president of marketing and communications for AT&T Wireless.

Two typical magazine advertisements by the Bell System using the "Reach Out" theme are shown below along with a post-divestiture advertisement by AT&T in 1984 (top):


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