New commercials now running in Illinois may be a bit humorous, but they have some Texans fuming.
That's because the ads feature a cigar smoking, overweight Texas cowboy, with his boots kicked up on a desk. He's also sporting an outlaw bandana in one scene. A group representing AT&T and WorldCom is responsible for the ads. They're running them in response to Texas based SBC's expansion in the Midwest.
|Controversial Anti-Texas Commercial|
Most can agree competition among the nation's phone giants is a good thing. But many Texans, including the Metro 8 Chambers of Commerce, say these controversial commercials take a cheap shot at a culture that should be cherished, not insulted.
The latest in a series of television and print ads, bashes Texas based SBC. "Illinois phone consumers stand to lose $300 million a year if SBC gets its way," the ad says. "And guess who'll take those millions back to Texas unless we stop them?"
The ad, and others like it, have many Texans outraged. Lubbock Chamber of Commerce President Eddie McBride says the ads are negative and offensive. "It's just totally uncalled for. It's low class advertising in my opinion," says McBride.
But, McBride says this kind of advertising is rarely effective. "I professionally do not think that gains you any business advantage whenever you cut down a particular group of people."
Despite that, several protests are now being launched against the ads. Chamber leaders from Texas' largest cities have endorsed a letter of protest. It says the ads, 'could negatively impact new investment and tourism' in Texas. The letter of protest asks Governor Perry to help get the attack ads off the air.
SBC isn't happy about the ads either. "They shouldn't attack the people of Texas as tasteless buffoons, everywhere but Texas. And then, when they (advertise) here, they act like they founded the Republic," says SBC President John T. Montford.
Montford says the ads stretch the bounds of fair competition. "We're keeping it on a competitive level. We think attacking Texans on a personal level transcends the bounds of fairness in competition. And they ought to come down to San Antonio, or Lubbock or Austin and publicly apologize to the people of Texas," says Montford.
But the coalition of companies running the ads stand behind them. "The focus of the ad was on SBC's well documented pattern of law breaking. And unfortunately, Texas consumers often foot the bill for this. It's a company you should not trust, and we apologize if some Texans are offended," says Peter Arnold with Voices for Choices.
SBC says they haven't broken the law, no one's been indicted, no one's going to jail. They say what Voices for Choices calls, 'breaking the law', are fines related to industry policy. SBC says breaking the law is what companies like WorldCom did, when executives went to jail.
Voices for Choices did not mention any plans to stop running the ads. We'll keep you posted on the effort here in Texas to get the ads off the air.