How AT&T Angered Broadway

September 15, 2015

You don’t have to explain the value of dance as an art form to dancers. It’s a belief we readily embrace—knowing that movement has the power to evoke feelings we’re not always conscious of, to help us connect on a deeper level. And I can imagine that actors similarly endorse their craft, as do the majority of audience members.

Sadly, I can’t confidently say that the reach of art appreciation extends much further. Evidence: This AT&T ad that was posted on Twitter earlier this week.



I’m sorry. Is AT&T actually encouraging people to whip out their smartphones and use them in the theater during a show? Call it a marketing faux pas, a grave oversight or insensitivity to the arts. I get that it’s a play on words, but this is just ridiculous. Needless to say, it caused a firestorm on social media, especially within the Broadway community.

The ad has since been taken down, and AT&T released this statement to an NYC news outlet: “Certainly it’s evident our ads take place in an alternate reality and are not meant to be taken literally. The broad concept of the campaign is that you see content just about anywhere.”

One of my favorite reaction tweets was this one from @Blessedterns:



I couldn’t agree more. But my wish for Hamilton tickets is a whole other story…

Please observe some of the other imagery in the same AT&T campaign. While the idea of streaming TV while you’re in the middle of another experience is a little silly, these examples aren’t offensive.



This whole kerfuffle has me feeling a little déjà vu. Didn’t we just go over this, people, when Patti LuPone took an audience member’s jangling cell phone during a performance of Shows for Days, and when Madonna was shamed for texting during Hamilton?

Art is an escape to something greater: an experience. Not a TV-streaming/Twitter/Facebook/Instagram fest.