AT&T CEO John Stankey said on Tuesday he was not happy with his company’s brand and plans to refresh the image of the wireless operator in the years to come.
“Frankly, I am not happy with the current position of the AT&T brand,” Stankey said during the Goldman Sachs Communacopia virtual conference. “I’m not sure the brand will be in good shape for the next 10 years.”
Various iterations of AT&T brands have been around since the late 1800s, just a few years after the invention of the telephone. The company’s distinguished reputation as a reliable fixed-line provider and dividend-payer for investors still exists, even as AT&T has become a wireless operator and owner of media assets including WarnerMedia and DirecTV.
Stankey is in the process of merging WarnerMedia with Discovery. It has also turned DirecTV into a stand-alone company as it tries to focus on AT&T’s wireless business, following the merger of T-Mobile and Sprint last year with Verizon and T-Mobile in terms number of subscribers. -Mobile lagging behind.
AT&T spent more than $ 160 billion, including debt, to acquire WarnerMedia and DirecTV. Neither deal paid off for Stankey, who, as first mate to former CEO Randall Stephenson, was instrumental in acquiring both companies. AT&T shares have fallen about 25% over the past five years.
In the coming years, the company will focus on creating a 5G broadband service. Stankey said his vision to refresh the brand will go beyond advertising, although he didn’t give details on how he wants to improve the company’s image.
“It’s a highly recognized brand, but we have to evolve it,” Stankey said.
AT&T has experienced several brand failures in recent years. The company chose to introduce HBO Max when two other streaming services, HBO Go and HBO Now, still existed. The result confused clients and drew factual criticism from WarnerMedia chief Jason Keeler, who admitted the sequence of events was a mistake in an interview with CNBC.
AT&T changed the name of its streaming service DirecTV Now to AT&T TV Now in 2019 – a separate product from AT&T TV – eventually winding up AT&T TV Now and renaming the entire suite of services. for DirecTV. Several former and current AT&T and DirecTV executives have told CNBC they are critical of AT&T’s management of DirecTV, which over the years has outperformed rival satellite TV provider Dish Network in terms of performance. subscribers based on its brand and witty TV commercials.