How AT&T CMO Cathy Coughlin Keeps Content Marketing Fresh

AT&T GMO Cathy Coughlin
AT&T global marketing officer Cathy Coughlin is experimenting boldly with content marketing.

AT&T’s global marketing officer, Cathy Coughlin, recently interviewed for my marketing column in Global Telecoms Business.

As steward of one of the largest ad budgets in the United States, Cathy has moved AT&T to a digital-first marketing strategy. The company stays ahead of users’ changing media habits by creating unique content. For example, AT&T is experimenting with webisodes such as Daybreak, which has gained more than 12 million views on YouTube.

Cathy also leads AT&T initiatives to prevent texting while driving among mobile users, and to promote science, technology, engineering and math education for women.

Here’s an excerpt from Cathy Coughlin’s interview. Get the full story at Global Telecoms Business [free registration].

George Stenitzer: AT&T has shown a pattern of marketing experimentation. You’ve adopted new ways to reach consumers, such as creating webisodes for your Daybreak initiative and generating consumer interaction with Away We Happened. Why? What is AT&T doing now to keep its marketing approaches fresh?

Cathy Coughlin: At AT&T, we take a learn-and-innovate approach and design our marketing mix with a mobile, digital-first mindset. We want to take smart risks and find new ways to engage with consumers.

One of our latest examples is @SummerBreak, a youth entertainment reality series that follows the lives of a group of California teens in real time, exclusively on social media. It was created for this generation of media consumers, who are mobile-centric, socially connected and co-creators. To date, @SummerBreak has racked up over 40 million views on YouTube alone.

We also launched the Mobile Movement this year. It, too, documents the lives of young America. Its goal is to highlight how mobile innovation has impacted the lives of young people every day. It features our own customers on social media, telling stories about how their wireless devices and our service integrate into their lives. It also showcases their innovation as young entrepreneurs creating new apps and services across the country, every day.

One in three millennials know about the Mobile Movement and it has already delivered more than a billion impressions. What’s more, we’ve seen solid upward movement for our brand among millennials for favorability, willingness to recommend and intent to purchase.

Stenitzer: How does AT&T’s marketing stay ahead of users’ changing media habits? How do you keep advertising effective when people use several screens at the same time?

Coughlin: At AT&T, we work hard to be in tune with both trending and established media-consumption habits. The key is to balance traditional forms of research with actual behavioral data to help distinguish between true behavioral change and passing fads.

What’s not a fleeting trend is viewing content on multiple screens. The fact that people are viewing content simultaneously on tablets, smartphones, TVs and other devices gives us an opportunity to coordinate our advertising and marketing experiences across screens to deepen and amplify our messages.

Stenitzer: You’ve been AT&T’s CMO since 2007 – a remarkably long tenure for 
a CMO. What advice do you have for other CMOs on how to approach marketing?

Coughlin: As marketers, our job is to ensure that we have a deep understanding of our customers and our company. Our job is to ensure that our brand — what we stand for and deliver on — is relevant, credible and valuable to customers.

Read the full story at Global Telecoms Business [free registration].



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