Do You, You…Tweet Like We Do? What AT&T Can Learn From Peter Frampton

This is a guest post by @AnneWeiskopf.  If you’d like to suggest a guest post for The Realtime Report, please email a brief description of your idea to or tweet us at @RealtimeReport!

Flashback:   it’s 1976 and America is celebrating our Bicentennial, marking our independence from England. Simultaneously, we are rejoicing over the release of British rocker Peter Frampton’s seminal album, “Frampton Comes Live.” With his gorgeous long blond locks and his amazing skill on the guitar, every girl wanted to date Frampton and every guy wanted to be Frampton. It was the best-selling album of 1976, selling over 6 million copies in the US alone.

Flashforward: it’s 2011 and Peter Frampton is on tour in the US and treating his fans to a “Frampton Comes Alive” performance 35 years later. I went to the Frampton concert this past weekend at the Bank of America Pavilion in Boston. His voice and his guitar playing are as good as they were in 1976.

Alas, the same cannot be said for his hair. The crowd, as you might expect, had a median age of about 55.

So you can imagine my surprise when I saw a representative from AT&T, a sponsor of the event, walking around with t-shirts saying: “Tweet with Me!”

When I inquired about what AT&T was promoting, she told me they wanted the concert goers to tweet to AT&T’s Twitter wall. Given that the average age of Twitter users is well below the attendee demographic, and, based upon the fact that I was one of 3 people out of entire audience that was checked into Foursquare, the odds for an active Twitter audience were far from realistic.

Standing outside the AT&T sponsor area I encountered confusion from the concert goers:   “Is AT&T trying to sell me a cell phone plan?” (There were sample phones on the table.)  “What is Twitter, and why should I sign up for an account?” and “Am I supposed to stand in front of the screen and have my picture taken?” and finally “How does AT&T make money off of getting me to twitter?”

The ladies from AT&T tried their hardest but they knew they had the same odds of getting this crowd to tweet as I had of getting them name a single song that Peter Frampton performed.

Speaking of which, Frampton played every song from Frampton Comes Alive, which was the main draw for many who attended the concert. It brought them way back to 1976, and the crowd was on their feet the entire first half of the show. After a break, Frampton returned and exposed the crowd to a body of newer work, where his passion now lies. For me, I liked the back half better, but everyone they got what they came for, and then even more than they expected.

So what can AT&T can learn from Peter Frampton?

  1. Know your audience, and understand what your audience expects from your brand. Frampton knew who his fans were, and why they were there.  AT&T trying to get Frampton’s fans to tweet?  Not so much.
  2. Take your audience to where your brand is evolving–but don’t let them forget why they became loyal fans in the first place. Frampton gave his fans what they loved, and then asked them to go on a journey and check out his newer material.  AT&T took its customers to a place that was completely unfamiliar (Twitter walls???) without helping them make a connection to what they knew about the brand.

If AT&T can find a way to learn from Frampton, we will all be singing “Baby I Love Your Way.”