By Barry Janoff
March 29, 2013: AT&T is revamping its think tank group of young kids with NBA icons Earvin 'Magic' Johnson, Larry Bird, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Russell in the new round of "It's Not Complicated" ads.
The spots will break over the weekend during the Elite Eight round of the NCAA Div. I Men's Basketball Tournament, airing on CBS and TBS.
The campaign, which broke last year, features a series of first grade kids sitting around a classroom table and "spontaneously" answering questions from an adult moderator relating to AT&T's 4G network, such as, "Is being able to do two things better than one" and "Would you rather go big or go home?"
AT&T is a corporate partner of the NCAA, which made the basketball tie-in organic. AT&T went with the four NBA legends because "these four former players know, first-hand, the value of being bigger and faster — just like AT&T’s wireless network."
They also know March Madness. Johnson was on the 1979 Michigan State team that defeated Bird's Indiana State squad for the NCAA title; Abdul-Jabbar (then known as Lew Alcindor) was a member of three UCLA championship squads (1967-68-69); and Russell led the University of San Francisco to titles in 1955-56.
AT&T broke an "It's Not Complicated" spot during March Madness with a hoops theme, in which the kids were asked, "In basketball, is doing two things at the same time better than doing one thing?" The kids yell, "Yes!!" When asked for an example, they come up with a "pickle roll" (pick-and-roll), in which you "kick the pickle and it splatters all over the other person."
In "Slow Break," the four NBA Hall of Famers are asked, "In basketball, is it better to be faster or slower?" In unison, they reply, "Faster."
"A quick team creates more scoring opportunities," explains Abdul-Jabbar.
"Well," replies the moderator, "they don't call it a 'slow break.'"
Smiles Magic, "In Larry's case, maybe they do," referring to Bird's infamous lack of speed during his playing days.
When the other guys laugh, Bird moans, "It's like I don't have feelings," which inspires the moderator to give him a hug." (See the full spot here.)
In "Up Top," the moderator asks, "In basketball, is it better to be bigger or smaller?" The four guys respond, "Bigger." "Like us," adds Magic. The moderator, who is about a foot shorter than anyone else at the table, offers, "Uh, yeah, like us." Then he says, "Up top," offering to give a high-five. The problem: He has to stand tall to reach the extended hands of the hoop stars even as they remain seated. (See the full spot here.)
Both spots end with a voiceover stating, "It's not complicated. Bigger is better. And AT&T has the nation's largest 4G network." Lead agency is BBDO, NY.
AT&T has been supporting the 2013 version of March Madness with TV, social media, a mobile app and on-site activation. The company will have a major presence during Final Four weekend in Atlanta, including the AT&T Block Party, the AT&T Fan Zone and title sponsorship of Conan State University, founded by TBS' Conan O'Brien.
AT&T will also have significant presence during the women's Final Four in New Orleans.
This season's March Madness tournament is averaging 9 million viewers, the highest since the 10.3 million in 1993, according to CBS and Turner Sports.
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