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
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.
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
To see one of the other Reach Out commercial by the Bell System, click
These files can be found at
They have a LOT of recordings of the commercials from this time period
and you can even order CD recordings from them; check them out!
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):